What do you do?
I teach good breathing habits consistent with healthy physiology to help clients be healthier, feel better and improve performance – mentally, emotionally or physically. I also work with athletes to improve sports performance.
Why should I even concern myself with breathing – I’ve been doing it automatically since birth?!
Breathing happens in two ways:
- Breathing under reflex control. You can rely on your body to do it perfectly well for you as long as you don’t interfere. You interfere with your breathing every time you talk, sing, eat, drink, brush your teeth, yawn, cough, …, you get the picture.
- Breathing as a habit. We can learn to regularly interfere with our breathing in certain circumstances or all the time without us being aware of it. A habit is formed when we reliably react to a certain trigger knowingly or unknowingly. This reaction can be beneficial or detrimental to the workings of the body. Dysfunctional breathing habits are detrimental to your body.
I will help you find out if you have any breathing habits that are not good for you. Most clients intuitively already know but would like to still be assessed in detail with some support on how to move forward.
Does good breathing simply mean diaphragmatic breathing?
If the diaphragm as the main breathing muscle is used well, then you will find physiology is already supported well. However, there are other dysfunctional habits that can cause havoc with your breathing, e.g. aborted exhales, gasping, sighing, etc. Together, we will retrain all aspects of healthy breathing: breathing rate, breathing volume, breathing mechanics, nose breathing, etc in a variety of different situations. Triggers that in the past caused your breathing to change (specific situation, environments or people) can be disconnected so that your breathing will continue to be supportive no matter what.
What is the difference between overbreathing and hyperventilation?
One of the prevalent dysfunctional breathing patterns is called overbreathing. This is breathing in excess of physiological requirements, i.e. more than what your body actually requires. For example, when sitting still there is no need for you to breathe much yet many people still breathe as if they are engaged in exercise. Just like eating more than you need is not good for you, so is breathing more than you need also not good for you. The medical term for breathing in excess of physiological requirements is called hyperventilation. However, many people associate hyperventilation with hyperventilation attacks = an extreme form of breathing too much. Hence, practitioners tend to use the term overbreathing rather than hyperventilation.
Is good breathing all about relaxation?
Ideally the way you breathe keeps your cells supplied optimally with oxygen whether your are relaxed _or_ stressed. This means good breathing should support whatever the body is required to do. If your natural breathing reflex is not interferred with then this is exactly what happens. However, most (but not all) people overbreathe in times of stress and this developed as a coping habit. Yet, you can re-learn to breathe well in times of stress.
If you are one of those people who are always on the go and have trouble slowing down then your nervous system may have lost some of that inborn ability to activate the parasympathetic (slowing down) part. HRV training will help you to retrain this. Only if your nervous system is able to speed up _and_ slow down you be able to consistently negotiate life’s challenges without any harm to your health.
Why do you talk so much about carbon dioxide (CO2)?
Oxygen availability to cells is highest when CO2 levels are normal (between 35 and 45mmHg). For many people CO2 levels are too low as a result of breathing dysfunction. This reduces the amount of oxygen available to cells (via the Bohr effect and vasoconstriction). This means over-breathing can starve your cells of oxygen to a lesser or greater extent some or all of the time.
More oxygen means breathing more, right?!
Breathing rates and breathing volumes have increased dramatically over the last 80 years, yet, on the whole we are all less healthy. So the idea that breathing more gives us more oxygen can’t be the solution – it’s also not true. Breathing in excess of metabolic requirements reduces CO2 levels which are needed to enable oxygen uptake of cells. Therefore, low CO2 = low O2!
How can Coherent Breathing help with stress?
Coherent breathing is primarily concerned with nervous system balance (equal sympathetic and parasympathetic activation). Heart rate variability (HRV) biofeedback is a technique to determine and measure the balance of the autonomic nervous system. Persistent stress means our system is geared to handle stress (sympathetic dominance) but the less we relax, the more we lose our ability to relax. It’s a use-it-or-lose-it scenario and particularly true for deep relaxation. Research has shown that nervous system imbalance affects immune system function, cardiovascular function, hormone balance and many others. I think of nervous system balance as the healing balance.
I will teach you how to establish this balance using your breath and positive intent. In a one-on-one setting, acupressure is particularly effective to establish and maintain this balance. Biofeedback will be used throughout to measure this balance. Over the course of a few sessions and your continued home practice your parasympathetic and sympathetic tone will even out. You should find you are better equipped to handle your daily challenges, feel better and have a more positive outlook on life, and any symptoms of ill-health should improve.
What is the difference between coherence and resonance?
Breathing and intention create special states called coherence and resonance. In coherence, the heart rate and breathing wave align. In resonance, brain function and other systems in the body also synchronise. It is a very special state and an experience of this you will treasure for life. The coherence state can be measured and improves over time with long-term benefit to the client.