Breathing for better health

Posted on: 17th January, 2017

Category: Health & Lifestyle

Contributor: West Cork People

In 2013, Brian Murphy, a primary school teacher from Glengarriff, was diagnosed with asthma after suffering from a severe chest infection and bronchitis. This led him to the Buteyko Breathing Breathing method. He has lived medication-free ever since. Brian went on to train with Buteyko Practitioners International and is now a qualified practitioner of the Buteyko Breathing Method.

The Buteyko Breathing Method was developed by Konstantin Buteyko, a Ukrainian doctor in the 1950s. Dr Buteyko discovered that over-breathing or hyperventilation was at the root of many diseases, especially diseases of the respiratory system, such as asthma.

Buteyko Practitioner Brian Murphy explains how, with perseverance, our breathing patterns can be re-trained, greatly improving our health and wellbeing.

How we breathe affects our health – asthma, snoring, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, anxiety and exercise-induced asthma are all connected to how we breathe.

Breathing is the most vital act that our body automatically carries out, on average 20,000 times a day or 7.3 million times a year! It is so basic to our survival that most of us never consider that anything can be changed about the way we breathe.

If it feels like we don’t get enough air what can we do? If we are wheezing and coughing all the time isn’t that just the way we are? If we are tired in the morning and have been snoring all night surely we will just have to tolerate it, as will our partners?

Each person breathes on average 20,000 times a day but for many the act of breathing is filled with stress and anxiety. Many people complain that they are ‘shallow’ breathing, that they are not getting enough air, that they are constantly wheezing, that they snore or have sleep apnea and are exhausted when they wake up. For many, exercise, especially vigourous exercise like running or cycling can be stressful. Most runners complain that their breathing lets them down long before their legs give in when pushing themselves in a race. Poor breathing habits and anxiety go hand in hand.

The good news is that our breathing patterns can be re-trained. Although our breathing can feel like an automatic, unconscious drive that we have no control over, we can, with a bit of perseverance gain control and mastery over our breathing. The results are far-reaching for our health. Calmer, quieter breathing can replace anxious breathing. Genuinely deep, relaxed breathing can replace shallow, upper chest breathing. Wheezing can be controlled, sleep quality improved and exercising can be the enjoyable, relaxing activity it should be. All this affects our energy levels and sense of well-being.

BREATHING TIPS – How to help yourself right now

(a) Pay attention to how we are breathing during the day. Try to calm and reduce the volume of air that we breathe. If we are watching TV for example and we can hear our breathing, this is a sign that we are breathing too much. Healthy breathing is calm, quiet, effortless and relaxed. ALWAYS BREATHE THROUGH THE NOSE.

(b) Switch to breathing through our nose only during exercise. This may involve slowing down at first but exercise becomes much more enjoyable and in the long term we will be able to go faster. Let the nose be your guide when it comes to the speed of our run, cycle or workout. If we feel like we need to switch to mouth breathing we are going too fast! Maybe start with a daily walk with mouth closed then build it up to walk or jog.

Following the full breathing re-training programme can greatly improve health and well-being.

Your breath is within your control.

Brian runs classes in Bantry, Ballincollig and Cork City. One-on-one clinics and Skype lessons are also available.

Call Brian on 087 7738616 or email brian@yourbreath.ie for more details or see yourbreath.ie.

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