Breathing Space – Breathing Re-training
Breathe better…Feel better
- Why Breathe better?
- What is Buteyko?
- How does it work?
- Take the breathing test
- Find out about Buteyko Courses
Hi, I’m Karen!
For most of my childhood and adult life I have had asthma.
I came across the Buteyko Method over 10 yrs ago whilst studying naturopathy. I bought a book on the Buteyko method and every now and then I would attempt to practice the exercises and had some success…when I persevered!
Having spent the last 4 yrs in my Salt Therapy Clinic I have come across so many clients who struggle to breathe easily, because of asthma, nasal congestion, chronic cough, sleep apnoea or debilitating anxiety and panic attacks.
These clients come for a number of reasons. They are frustrated with treatments that are uncomfortable, or do not give lasting relief, or they are concerned with side-effects, or they crave a simple, natural and effective approach.
Whereas Salt Therapy is an extremely effective therapy I knew that the Buteyko method was another technique that could give them tools to change the way they breathe and improve their overall health.
In 2016 I had the opportunity to study with Patrick McKeown, an Irishman who studied under the late Konstantin Buteyko. I am now certified in the Buteyko Clinic Method to teach and am thrilled to share this wonderful technique with you through my business ‘Breathing Space’.
Whilst being a passionate Buteyko Therapist, I also love empowering and healing people through Kinesiology, Salt Therapy, Natural Skin Care, and Massage
Why breathe better?
How is poor breathing impacting your health
By taking control of our breathing we can influence our thoughts and feelings, our internal organs, such as the heart and brain, and our bodily functions such as digestion and the immune system.
There is nothing new about the importance of breathing. Just a few minutes of oxygen deprivation is enough to destroy the brain’s ability to process incoming information forever.
However, it isn’t just important that we breathe. But also how we breathe.
Poor breathing habits are very common. We breathe fast, shallow, hold our breath, take big breaths etc. But most people don’t realize that their own breathing is not as good as it could be.
Take a look at the list below. You may be surprised to see that any of these activities is an indication that your breathing habit is poor:
- Clearing your throat when you are stressed (throat-clearing is a form of breathing)
- Holding your breath while you concentrate
- Regular Sighing, Yawning
- Taking a big breath before talking
- Breathing forcefully when you talk
- Keeping your mouth open while you exercise
- Breathing fast and shallow when you are stressed
- Snoring when you sleep (snoring is a form of breathing)
Do you suffer from one or more of these limiting health problems?
- Sleep Apnoea & Snoring
- Asthma & Allergies
- Panic and Anxiety Conditions
- Chronic Cough ,Emphysema, COPD
- Mouth Breathing & Dental Problems
- Reduced sports performance
- Poor health
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, learning to improve your breathing pattern could provide you with significant health benefits.
Simply changing the way you breathe is incredibly easy to implement into your daily life and it usually gives fast and measurable results. Just change your daily breathing habits slightly and you will experience all the benefits to be found in breathing correctly.
Change your breathing and change your life!
What is Buteyko?
While researching heart disease in the 1950s, Konstantin Buteyko, a Russian medical researcher, developed a breathing technique that not only helped reduce high blood pressure, but also a variety of conditions including Asthma, Anxiety, IBS and Sinusitis.
The premise of the Buteyko technique is that many conditions are the result of dysfunctional breathing, that Konstantin Buteyko termed ‘over breathing’ or chronic hyperventilation. Completely at odds to the popular view that taking big deep breaths of air is ‘good’ breathing, the Buteyko way is to minimise intake, reducing and calming the breath towards normal. Not so different to ancient yogic pranayama or Hatha yoga breathing whereby a person could breathe one breath per minute for the duration of one hour. Take the breathing test to find out if you have dysfunctional breathing.
The Buteyko Method involves:
- Learning how to unblock the nose using breath hold exercises
- Switching from mouth breathing to nasal breathing
- Relaxation of the diaphragm and creating a mild air shortage
- Making small and easy lifestyle changes to assist with better long-term breathing methods
- Measuring your breathing volume and tracking your progress using a special breath hold test called the Control Pause
How does it work? – The science behind the method
The Buteyko breathing method believes that we need to increase carbon dioxide levels in the body. Carbon dioxide is often thought of as a ‘waste’ gas, but carbon dioxide is vital to life. While it is true that we breathe to get rid of excess carbon dioxide, it is also important that we retain a quotient of this gas. Depending on our genetic predisposition, the habit of breathing too much causes a reduced concentration of carbon dioxide in the blood, resulting in narrowing of the airways and blood vessels.
Conversely, a slight rise in carbon dioxide towards normal has several beneficial effects in the body including; relaxing smooth muscle, increasing oxygenation, switching on the relaxing nervous system, and increasing the body’s production of nitric oxide.
Relaxing Smooth muscle
Relaxing smooth muscle is how the Breathe Well course naturally improves conditions including: High blood pressure, Asthma, Headaches, IBS, Constipation, Diarrhoea, Reflux, Coughing.
Smooth muscle surrounds and lines all hollow structures in the body, including the airways, blood vessels, bowel, bladder and uterus. A slight increase in carbon dioxide serves to relax smooth muscle. In the case of smooth muscle lining the blood vessels, this will dilate or widen the arteries, improving circulation and helping lower blood pressure, and the effect on the blood vessels in the head will reduce the incidence of headaches. For the respiratory system, relaxation of the bronchi and smaller airways, bronchioles, will improve airflow and markedly reduce airway spasms associated with asthma. In the case of the bowel wall, relaxed smooth muscle means relief from symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Constipation and Reflux.
A study on people with Asthma, reported in the Medical Journal of Australia showed that after 3 months people practising the Buteyko breathing method had decreased their requirement for reliever medication by 90 per cent and the use of inhaled corticosteroids by 49 per cent. Buteyko exercises can have remarkable effects on a variety of conditions as well as helping to prevent a host of others.
It seems counterintuitive that higher carbon dioxide levels will increase oxygenation in the body. Yet it’s true. In fact, the Danish professor of physiology Christian Bohr sussed out how this works in 1904, and the Bohr effect has been named in his honour.
In the Buteyko breathing exercises, air is inhaled into the lungs, causing oxygen to cross over the alveolar membrane. Oxygen travels around by ‘sticking’ to haemoglobin molecules, themselves attached to red blood cells. An increase in carbon dioxide ‘tells’ haemoglobin to let go of the oxygen molecules, encouraging the precious oxygen cargo to be delivered to the organs and tissues where it is most needed. The Bohr effect proves that a slight increase in carbon dioxide levels increase oxygenation throughout the body, oxygen needed for muscles to work, energy to be produced, and the brain to function at optimum efficiency.
Increasing oxygenation of tissues will improve conditions including poor concentration and memory, poor circulation and low energy.
Nitric Oxide (NO) is a naturally produced gas that medical scientists want to capture into saleable capsules as it has so many health benefits. At a cellular level, NO works as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, helping in the prevention of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. NO improves the immune response as well as increasing blood and oxygen flow throughout the body, including the brain. Large amounts of NO are produced at the time of sexual climax. Increased carbon dioxide increases natural NO production, so bring on NO!
If the muscles of your shoulders and neck feel perpetually tight and knotted, the chances are that you not using your diaphragm to breathe. Diaphragmatic or ‘belly breathing’ is not a Buteyko breathing technique, however Karen teaches this in the Breathing Space course as it complements all the benefits of Buteyko and more.
Correct breathing means using the diaphragm, a thin dome shaped band of muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen. The diaphragm relaxes on the outbreath by moving upwards in a high dome, pressing on the lungs, causing air to be exhaled. On the in-breath, the diaphragm muscle contracts or shortens, allowing air to enter the lungs. The diaphragm presses down on the abdominal organs, causing the tummy to expand slightly, which is why this method is sometimes called ‘belly breathing’. People who don’t use the diaphragm properly, rely excessively on the accessory muscles of breathing (scalenes, trapezium and sternocleidomastoid) located around the neck and shoulders, which often causes neck and shoulder pain.