Do you breathe efficiently during the day, during sleep and during physical exercise?
Many people have inefficient breathing patterns, but are unaware of it. Modern lifestyles, diet, poor posture, stress, many health conditions, as well as genetics, can influence how we breathe. Chronic over-breathing is very common, but can contribute to poor mental and physical health, can exacerbate existing health conditions/injuries, can affect a child's craniofacial development, and an athlete's sports performance. Poor breathing patterns can lead to excessive breathlessness during daily activities and/or during physical exercise, or your symptoms may be more subtle but are affecting your wellbeing and performance at work or during sport.
If you over-breathe, you inhale more air than the body needs and exhale too much carbon dioxide. This alters the levels of natural gases in the blood, reduces oxygen delivery to our cells and organs, including the brain, and constricts our blood vessels and airways.
The good news is that we can re-train our breathing to adopt healthier, more efficient breathing patterns! As a Butyeko Instructor and Advanced Oxygen Advantage Instructor, I can help you improve your health, sleep or sports performance through better breathing. See more details below.
Better Breathing for Better Physical Health
Learning better functional breathing patterns can improve your general health in many ways. You will have more energy, stronger immune system, better focus and concentration, better quality sleep, a calmer mind, better recovery and sports performance.
Breathing well improves the quality of your sleep and can reduce sleep disordered breathing patterns (e.g. snoring, insomnia, sleep apnea). For people with respiratory conditions (e.g. asthma, COPD, post-COVID), it can alleviate or significantly reduce symptoms as these groups tend to over-breathe. Poor breathing patterns can contribute to high blood pressure, so this can be brought down to healthier levels. For women, hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle and menopause can create poor breathing patterns, but we can learn to change our daily breathing habits to manage this.
Better Breathing for Better Mental Health
How we breathe is inextricably linked to our mental state and it is a bi-directional process. Poor breathing patterns can trigger the stress response, creating feelings of fear, worsening anxiety and asthma symptoms. Equally, if we are stressed, our breathing patterns deteriorate, often resulting in faster and shallower upper chest movements and through the mouth.
We can use breathwork as a tool to alleviate mental and emotional stress, by spending a few minutes doing focussed breathing exercises to trigger the relaxation response. Therefore, anxiety, panic attacks and a racing mind can be helped by learning breathing exercises from the Buteyko method.
We can also use breathing to help us deal with thermal stress, like cold water immersion. Our natural response is to gasp and hyperventilate when entering cold water which triggers our stress response. Therefore, learning to control your breathing before, during and after cold water immersion will help trigger your relaxation response and make the experience safer and more enjoyable!
Better Breathing for Athletes
The Oxygen Advantage programme is designed to help athletes optimise their health and performance through better breathing.
A recent study showed that 90.6% of athletes across multiple sports and ages were screened from 2017-2020 and were observed to have dysfunctional breathing patterns.
Having good functional breathing and practising simulating high-altitude training (2 pillars of the Oxygen Advantage) can improve focus and concentration, endurance, speed and recovery and can reduce stress, breathlessness, and lactic acid build-up during physical exercise.
The Oxygen Advantage exercises improve circulation and increase oxygenation of your body, give you more energy, better quality sleep, better focus, concentration and sports performance.
I can teach you breathing exercises that you can fit into your daily life and training routine. This includes how to use breathwork to prepare the body for exercise and competitions, as well as how to recover quicker during and post training sessions.
Better Breathing for Children
All children should be breathing in and out through the nose with correct resting tongue posture and lips closed. For normal development of the brain, deep sleep is vitally important. If a child has sleep disordered breathing, for instance, snoring, heavy breathing, mouth breathing, this can lead to lighter sleep and can impact the development of the child. Mouth breathing reduces sleep quality and puts us into more of a stress response or flight/flight mode, it reduces oxygen transfer from the lungs into the blood, it contributes to a stuffy nose, it contributes to asthma, it affects academic achievement and brain development, and it affects the development of the jaws, the face and the airways.
As a Buteyko Instructor, I teach children (with their parents) how to switch from mouth to nasal breathing. There are breathing exercises to help children if they are feeling stressed or anxious, how to decongest the nose, how to breathe through nose during physical movement (e.g. running), and how to help ensure nasal breathing during sleep.