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Breathe Lightly

Anyone that has been to a fitness class especially a mobility-type class like yoga or Pilates has heard the instructor say, "breathe deep and slow". Useful instructions but not the whole story. Why are these instructions useful?

Breathe deep has an anatomical focus aiming to encourage full contraction potential of the diaphragm. The diaphragm being the main breathing muscle. When we breathe deep, we give the abdominal organs a massage, and if not over-breathing give the shoulders and neck muscles some downtime! But we can over breath which means to draw into much air when we really don't need to. So, the next time you are in warrior pose and breathing deeply, filling your belly (which is impossible to do and an instruction that I can't stand! 😡) are your chest and shoulders also lifting? If they are then soften, breathe less. Another bonus is that when we breathe deep our brain interprets this as feeling safe, and releases neurotransmitters like acetylcholine, which slows the respiratory rate soothing the nervous system.

Breathe slow 🐌 research shows that reducing the number of breaths per minute (respiratory rate) to six breaths allows more air to reach the lowest portion of the lungs where gaseous exchange happens, outcome increased oxygen swirling around the spaghetti junction of our body! It also gives an additional nod of safety to the brain, everything's right with the world, stand down and relax! 

So, paced or cadence breathing is great for us. Do it, do it! But then what's the missing the piece of the puzzle…breathe light!

Breathe light is the biochemical aspect of breathing and it's all thanks to the 'waste gas' carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is like the Wicked Witch of the West whilst oxygen is Dorothy! Oh, how wrong this is! Carbon dioxide is a goody, the unsung hero! 😆 When we learn to tolerate the rising levels are carbon dioxide in our blood, we oxygenate the body more! The drive to breathe doesn't come from too little oxygen it comes from our tolerance levels of carbon dioxide, this is known as the Bohr effect. An increase of the gas carbon dioxide in the blood, increases the pH of blood to more acidic and to balance the gases haemoglobin in the red blood cells reduce their holding power of oxygen molecules and release them into the brain, organs, and muscles. There is a catch and that is that most people have dysfunctional breathing of varying degrees. Chronic hyperventilation is common. Symptoms of dysfunctional breathing are fast, upper chest and irregular breathing usually accompanied by frequent yawning and sighing. Which is made worse by mouth breathing whilst awake, asleep and during activity. Do you snore and/or wake up with a dry mouth? Therefore, when one tries to breathe light and reduce the volume of air that is breathed in and out the feeling of 'air hunger' aka suffocation can be overwhelming for some. So, tread lightly and practice regularly. Start with a 'Paced Breathing' exercise and once used to breathing slow and deep, practice light breathing. Think LSD 🦄 Light. Slow. Deep.

Caroline is a breathing coach and founder of Move with Ease. A breathing coach trained in the Buteyko Breathing Method with Patrick McKeown and soon to be an Oxygen Advantage coach! Caroline works with clients from her garden studio in the tranquil village of Laddingford, Kent in-person or online. Buteyko Breathing Method can help to alleviate a number of breathing related problems including:respiratory: asthma, hay fever, rhinitis neurological: anxiety, panic disorder, stresssleep disorder breathing: snoring, sleep apnea, COPD

If you'd just like to breathe better when at rest, asleep or whilst in activity then please contact her and start your journey towards 'breathing with ease'. You can book for a FREE online consultation by heading direct to the Move with Ease website.

Caroline Miller

07596 107341

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