Cover art for podcast Better Breathing Means Better Health

Better Breathing Means Better Health

17 EpisodesProduced by Michael LingardWebsite

Most of us in the West breathe badly and this has an adverse effect on our health. Almost every disease is associated with poor breathing, and by simply improving our breathing with a little training, whatever health problem we may have will also be improved and even, in some cases, eliminated.

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Why Most of Us Need Breath Training

Episode # 2 “Why Most of Us Need Breath Training”

Hi, this is Michael Lingard bringing you the second episode of Better Breathing Means Better Health entitled “Why Most of Us Need Breath Training”

The fact that you are listening to this second episode tells me you know this is true and that you are wondering whether you could benefit yourself.

I have been teaching the Buteyko Method of breath training for over fifteen years and have been delighted to see what a great help it has been to all those I have taught but it has also been a disappointment to me that this powerful health promoting work has not gained mainstream medical support. There may be many reasons for this lack of interest from the medical establishment and the public at large but two main ones come to my mind.
As regards the medical establishment there is a bias towards disease management and treatment rather than health education and promotion, and with something so radical as this, they demand more scientific research before committing resources or recommending it. We now know that doctors are given little training in health promotion and natural medicine during their years of study and this has now been recognized and efforts are being made to improve this aspect of healthcare. So doctors by and large are reluctant to refer their patients to breath educators. We may also have to wait a long time for more research to be done since most is financed by the pharmaceutical companies who would not want to demonstrate simple breath training and other lifestyle changes could dramatically reduce the need and demand for their drugs.
As regards the public in general I understand it is a lot to expect of them to believe that they need to train themselves how to breathe since they have been doing it ever since birth! They don’t need to have walking or talking lessons so why should they need breathing lessons? The second barrier to acceptance is that they not unreasonably go to their doctor for all advice on health matters, who either doesn't support the idea of breath training or dismisses it as irrelevant. The third barrier in the UK is that we have all become used to the idea that all healthcare is free at point of delivery and Buteyko Breath training is not funded by the NHS but can cost a few hundred pounds and that can be difficult for many people.

I decided that perhaps the time had come to use modern communication technology to launch breath training more successfully, hence this free podcast you are now listening to. I hope I can make a small contribution to the growing awareness and use of healthy lifestyle self-help systems.

So let’s start on this journey towards a better lifestyle and improved health and wellbeing.

During my thirty-five years as a holistic healthcare practitioner I have found that over seventy five percent of my patients breathe badly and that this may account for much of their poor health or at the very least is contributing to the disease or illness they complain of. In fact I have found only a few percent breathe optimally and these people tend to have already been doing breath work in yoga, tai chi or other such training.

There are two major causes of this widespread problem, stress of our modern lives and lifestyle problems including our diet, exercise and work.

If you took time out and watched my video I suggested in episode one “Chronic Hidden Hyperventilation 21st Century Epidemic” you will by now realize why stress produces this dysfunctional breathing due to our ancient fight/flight response to stressors.
The lifestyle connections are not so clear cut but from my research over the past two years I have found a strong relationship between what we eat and how we breathe and also that how we breathe influences what and how we eat.

You may never have considered the possibility that you over-breathe especially as we are advised to do deep breathing, encouraged to take deep breaths when stressed and generally taught to increase our breathing to get more oxygen into our bodies. But we have been taught wrong! It is not as simple as that and the truth is quite the opposite. Over-breathing lowers our body oxygenation and in fact if you are stressed you will already be over-breathing and the last thing you want to do is to forcibly increase your breathing!

To summarize the physiology quickly; we all need to breathe about five litres of air per minute at rest, and our breathing is automatically controlled, not by the level of oxygen in our body, but the level of carbon dioxide. The level of carbon dioxide should normally be around 5 to 6 percent ideally for optimal oxygenation. We produce far more carbon dioxide than we need, so breathing is the body’s way of controlling this. If the carbon dioxide level is too high breathing is increased automatically to expel the surplus, if too low, breathing is reduced to conserve it.

So why does carbon dioxide matter? Professor Buteyko called carbon dioxide the hormone par excellence, as it has a profound effect on all of the body’s functioning. When carbon dioxide levels fall too low smooth-muscle wrapped around airways, blood vessels and other hollow organs begins to contract. This is the sensation every asthmatic feels when an attack is imminent, airways narrow & constrict and make it hard to breathe, this is one of the reasons many people suffer hypertension as the narrowed arteries demand a higher blood pressure and why others may suffer panic attacks through restricted blood flow to the brain. Many people breathe through the mouth rather than through their nose and this makes over-breathing more likely because of the large mouth compared with small nasal passages. Breathing through the nose filters out dust and irritants and so mouth breathing leads to more irritation of the airways. Also when we breathe too much there is an increase of histamine production that makes us more sensitive to pollen and other allergens. The nose is for breathing, and the mouth is for eating and talking. When we breathe through the nose dust and irritants are filtered out, the air is warmed if it is cold, the air is moisturized if too dry and most bacteria are killed off while passing through the nose so protecting us from infections of the chest.

When carbon dioxide levels are low, the blood carrying the oxygen to all the cells in the body doesn't releases oxygen readily and holds onto it. This creates a sensation of a shortage of breath that makes us try to breathe even more, but as we breathe more we expel even more carbon dioxide and our problems gets worse.

So perhaps you now see why breath training is essential for most of us in the West.

But let's check whether you are breathing too much now.
We're going to measure what Professor Buteyko called the “Control Pause” (CP). The control pause is the maximum comfortable breath hold after exhaling while at rest. It gives a fair measure of how well your body is oxygenated. If you are breathing normally and have good oxygenation, you will be able to hold your breath for 45 to 60 seconds without any effort. If you are very poorly oxygenated you may need to take a breath almost immediately or manage only a few seconds before you have to take another breath in.
So let's try it now.
Make sure you're sitting comfortably and relaxed and that you haven't just eaten as this will affect the result, wait at least an hour after eating before checking your control pause.
Keep your mouth shut and breathe in through your nose a normal breath, breathe out through your nose and then hold your nose. Checked the time on your second hand of a watch or start a timer. Hold your breath until you feel the need to take another breath in, release your nose and breathe in.
Note how many seconds you were able to hold your breath.
This was your control pause, make a note of it and in the next episode will discuss how well your breathing is and what the control pause means.

In preparation for the next episodes and for recording your exercises you should purchase “The Breath Connection – The Buteyko Guide to Better Breathing & Better Health” by Michael Lingard £10.00 from Amazon .co.uk or Lulu.com HERE

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