In part one and two of our Breathing blog, we looked at the role CO2 plays in the body and indicated that its levels are adjustable.
But Why Is Adjusting CO2 Levels So Important?
Scientific research points out that healthy people have a high tolerance for CO2 and the drop in its level indicates changes in the state of health.
Researchers have listed up to 30 common symptoms and conditions contributed to by poor breathing patterns. Thee include asthma, chest tightness, snoring, sleep apnea, irritable bowel syndrome, poor digestion, panic attacks, anxiety, stress, depression, possible heart conditions and general exhaustion.
Breathing exercises are mostly about the manipulation of carbon dioxide in the blood, not oxygen. CO2 is hugely valuable, and most people over-breathe, not under-breathe.
Check Your Own Carbon Dioxide Levels
In late 1980 Dr KP Buteyko, creator of the Buteyko method of breathing for people with asthma, introduced a simple way of measuring CO2 tolerance levels.
He called it the Control Pause or “CP”.
To check your CP, you need to:
- sit comfortably, relax;
- take notice of how you breathe in and out;
- breathe out as usual and hold your breath;
- note the time you can hold your breath until the first strong desire to breathe in.
The test is done correctly if you can take the first breath without gasping too much.
The time you obtained is your CO2 tolerance level and should preferably be about 50 seconds. The majority of healthy people will be between 30 and 50 seconds; asthmatics will be anywhere from 10 to 20 seconds.
3 Very Practical Breathing Exercises
Different breathing exercises affect the way you feel. The three different exercises below cause you to feel either balanced, relaxed, or energized and are appropriately named water, whiskey and coffee breathing.
Water breathing is every day, all the time type breathing – just like the way you need to drink water. If you are up it will bring you down, if you are down it will bring you up, it balances your autonomic nervous system.
Method: inhale for 4 seconds – exhale for 4 seconds (repeat the whole day, it’s the way you should be breathing all the time).
Whiskey Breathing will quickly combat stress and restless nights, it works like a good whiskey. You will fall asleep even as you count.
Method: inhale for 4 seconds – exhale for 8 seconds (repeat until you feel relaxed or are asleep).
Coffee Breathing is a quick, energy-boosting or pick me up life-saver, competing with your cup of coffee for effectiveness. Not to be done before sleep or you won’t, or just after eating as you well regret the meal. Most effective when you wake, just before exercise or when feeling tired during the day.
Method: 1 second exhales (repeat 3 sets of 20 exhales and enjoy the energy boost). This method takes a little practice, it’s important to relax your belly and exhale from your diaphragm. Try to imagine a ball being thrown at your tummy and how you would respond with a quick exhale through your nose. Don’t think about the inhale, it will occur automatically.
Have fun and experience the results for yourself. Most importantly remember that all inhaling and exhaling are to be done through the nose. Click here for a guided demonstration.
Finally Hum for Health
As we mentioned in part 2 of this series on ‘Every Breath You Take’, Nitric Oxide generated in the sinuses helps to control blood pressure and ward off infections. To increase its production by 15 fold, simply hum when exhaling through your nose. Best done alone when driving or, for a laugh, with family!
All the best.