Are you an Overbreather?

How you breathe in your daily life can be the difference between a vibrant and healthy life and a life plagued with sickness and fatigue… who would have thought that the way we breathe could be so important!

Breathing dysfunction affects around 15 percent of the population, in addition to the 330+ million people worldwide that are affected by asthma. Are you an Overbreather?

Healthy breathing, healthy being… Modern Qigong with Nicole Lee

Overbreathing is a form of breathing dysfunction, it causes narrowing of the airways (especially relevant for those people with asthma), constriction of blood vessels and reduced blood flow to muscles and organs. Chronic overbreathing results in a change to the carbon dioxide / oxygen axis in the body and affects our body’s ability to utilise oxygen effectively. This change in the axis results in breathlessness (even during mild physical activity), metabolic issues (digestive problems) and the big one that so many people suffer from on a day-to-day basis – tiredness, poor concentration and fatigue. Ultimately when the brain isn’t getting enough oxygen we feel tired and lack energy.

We’re often advised to – take a deep breath… turns out this isn’t the best advice. 

Overbreathing means that we’re taking in TOO much oxygen – more that our body requires. So what? You say…Well, if we’re taking in too much oxygen then we have a deficiency in Carbon Dioxide. So what? You say… Carbon Dioxide isn’t just a waste product that we want to remove from our body, it plays a more significant role in the healthy functioning of our body’s that that. 

Carbon dioxide:

  • Enables the transfer of oxygen from the blood to the cells in your body
  • Dilates the smooth muscle in the walls of your airways and blood vessels
  • Regulates the pH level of your blood

Noses Are for Breathing – Mouths Are for Eating! 

This is a wise tidbit from Chinese Medicine but interestingly it is mirrored in other ancient cultures also. Did you know that women in Native American Indian tribes were observed by European settlers to press the lips of their babies and toddlers together to encourage the development of natural (nasal) breathing. Practically the entire animal kingdom (with the exception of diving birds and aquatic animals) breathe through their nose, even under heavy exertion… only during times of illness would an animal be seen to be breathing through its mouth.

Mouth breathers:

  • Are at risk of poor respiratory strength 
  • May develop forward head posture
  • Easily dehydrated
  • Increased risk of cavities and gum disease
  • Have bad breath
  • Snore and/or experience sleep apnea

Do you experience any of these? Are you an overbreather?

Nitric Oxide…. A toxic gas?

Outside the body yes… inside the body, it appears no. Nitric oxide is produced inside the nasal cavity and is released into the airways and lungs through nasal breathing. This gas plays an important role within the body; it affects vasoregulation (opening / closing blood vessels), homeostasis (body regulation), neurotransmission, immune defence and respiration. 

Nitric oxide helps:

  • Prevent high blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Artery health
  • Blood flow and circulation

The ability to breathe ‘naturally’ – through the nose is vital to optimal health and energy levels…

In additional to all the fascinating information I’ve shared with you above, normal breathing mechanics play a key role in physical health – posture and spinal stabilisation, as well as mental and emotional health – our ability to process feelings of stress and anxiety. 

Some other reasons you might want to find out more about how you can optimise your breathing are:

  • Assists in weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Reduces fatigue and brain fog
  • Improved longevity (read: lessens the affects of ageing!) by lowering oxidative stress in the body
  • Increase your fitness
  • Improve oxygenation of your heart
  • Improvement / elimination of exercise induced asthma

WOWSERS… breathing huh! Who knew that the way we breathe was so important… If you are interested to learn more about how reprogramming your breathing could help you I highly recommend the book ‘The Oxygen Advantage’ by Patrick McKeown… you can also listen to a podcast on Bulletproof Radio with him here.

If you think you might be an overbreather Qigong can be super helpful in connecting us to our breath… and for helping us to establish the healthy habit of nasal breathing… Bring some Qigong into your day with my free Qigong Quickies at my YouTube channel, come to a weekly class in-studio or check out my calendar here to book a 1:1 online session.

1 Comment

  1. Great information Nicole, thank you.

    I am particularly interested in the info about deep breaths not always being helpful. Certainly going to follow up the book and podcast.


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