Does Better Breathing Improve my Life?
It sounds so stupid because it’s so simple, right? I mean, of course I breathe right. I do it every day. It’s a subconscious act, like my heart beating, otherwise I’d die…but could I tell if I wasn’t breathing correctly? And does better breathing improve my life?
An ancient Sanskrit Proverb says:
you can go without movement for months, and still live;
without food for weeks and water for days yet still live….
However, we can only go without air for minutes until we die.
Our Life depends on Our Breath
And yet why, in our modern day, does no one look to the breath to improve their health?
Our whole living organism, at a cellular level, is dependent on constant supply of oxygen in order to function optimally. Without this cellular oxygen in sport, our performance suffers acutely within 30 seconds and without it in our daily lives our health suffers chronically, as in diseases like asthma, rhinitis, cardiovascular disease, depression, anxiety and stress disorders to name a few.
Yet why is it in health professions that very few people look to the quality of our breath and the mechanics of our breathing as a means to improve oxygenation of our cells and the health of our body?
Socially speaking, breathing has been associated with religious and spiritual practices and so the benefits of correct breathing have been lost in language and culture.
From a research perspective, it is difficult to invest millions of dollars researching something which is essentially free and from which no profit can be made. Having said that, there are some bright stars in our world which have shed the spotlight on the benefits of effective breathing.
Dr. Buteyko’s Amazing Discovery
Dr. Konstantin Buteyko (Bu-tey-ko) was perhaps the first medical doctor to recognise these benefits back in the 1950’s. His life’s work began when he cured himself of high blood pressure in 1954 by introducing a reduced breathing technique.
Once Dr. Buteyko realised the benefits to himself, he tested his method on his patients.
Over the course of 10 years and with more than 200 patients, he refined his method and the physiological reasons behind it.
From the 1960’s until his death in 2004, Dr. Buteyko continued to treat clients with an array of diseases including asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stress disorders. His method of breathing has been tested in three clinical trials in the western world and has been the topic of much research.
In each trial it has shown the positive benefits of normalising the breath combined with correct breathing patterns.
His method is now implemented as a part of asthma treatment in several health care systems around the world. Dr, Buteyko’s method works, the reasons why it works is not so clear in research. Buteyko himself, reasoned that it was a lack of carbon dioxide in the body which prevented oxygen reaching the cell, which ultimately led to a host of chronic diseases and death in the person. My own personal experience of the technique is that it saved my life.
My Own Suffering with Breathing
When I was 18 I was sick in bed for a total of 6 months due to asthma.
Medical doctors told me there was nothing more could be done for me. I was on numerous inhalers, oral steroids and antibiotics for multiple asthma attacks and recurring chest infections. I was told to give up on a life as a physical trainer and wait to see if my health improves of its own accord.
One day, my mom came across a course instructing the Buteyko method and recommended I give it a shot.
I did it and within 18 months of learning the method, I was asthma symptom and medication free. What’s more is that I followed my passion and continued on to become a physical trainer and play sport to this day.
I also studied the method more in-depth and become a teacher of it. I have worked with a wide variety of people and the resounding results are this: when you do the exercises and fix your breathing, your symptoms will be alleviated and can be eliminated, your health will improve dramatically and you can become physically fit once more.
Across my clients I’ve seen similar results to Dr. Buteyko. People have reported a reduction in blood pressure, wheezing, coughing, anxitey and stress levels. Athlete’s have found their fitness soar through the roof. They’re more focused during their game. They spend less time warming up and they can start their game at a higher intensity. Perhaps, best of all, they spend less time recovering and more time doing things they love to do – like playing ball.
Breathing Changes Lives
There has also been a great improvement in physical conditioning and sports performance from people that were already healthy. The full physiological reasons as to why Dr. Buteyko’s method works may yet to be discovered but here’s what we do know:
Oxygen in our cells is essential for health, athletic performance and life.
The results of improving your breath with Dr. Buteyko’s method speak for themselves time and again.
When you fix your breathing patterns,
you optimize your health,
boost sports performance
and enhance the quality of your life.