This week I wanted to share some fascinating information that I gleaned after listening to a podcast recommended by Pippa.

The Podcast is one of Dr Rangan Chatterjee and I have listened to many of his podcasts in the past, but this particular one was an interview with Patrick McKeown who wrote The Oxygen Advantage.

We all know that breathing is fundamental to life but like most things there is a good way to breathe and a not so good way. So, lets look at some of the basics covered:

If you want to optimise your health and general well being you should be breathing lightly, slowly and through your nose.

If you breathe through the mouth, you tend to breathe very shallowly, chest breathing and too fast.  This is so important as this impacts our sleep, emotions and oxygen uptake, it triggers your sympathetic nervous system, flight or fight. Interestingly and not surprising, is the strong link between anxiety and shallow, fast breathing.  Changing your breathing can lower your anxiety levels and I’m not talking about taking a minute or two to do some deep slow breathing, this is a great temporary aid to calm ourselves. What I’m talking about is changing the way you breathe permanently from shallow, fast breathing through your mouth to light, slow breathing through your nose. 

To sum up:

Mouth breathing – shallow, fast breath, increases stress, affects your emotions, agitates your mind, poor sleep, increased anxiety, affects health and well being

Nasal breathing – light, slow breath, calms your mind, takes you away from stress and into your parasympathetic nervous system, better sleep, improved emotions, more energy, better focus, improved performance, better health and well being.

When you breathe through your nose you are actively targeting your diaphragm breathing muscle, there is a direct link between your nose and your diaphragm, there is no such link though your mouth.

Changing your breathing will have a dramatic effect on the quality of your life. So how do we go about it:

1. Awareness – you need to observe how you breathe, are you a nasal breather or mouth breather? Do you wake up with a dry mouth? How much are you breathing through your nose or mouth? 

2. Awareness of your mind – how agitated is your mind? What types of thoughts are you thinking? Can you or do you find a way to quieten the constant ‘monkey chatter’ that goes on in your mind?

Is this you?

Mouth breath

Agitated mind

Difficulty sleeping

Increased stress

Affects your emotions

Affects your health and well being

Once you are aware that you are a mouth breather, or maybe you are both mouth and nasal, then you can take steps to change this.  You must consistently practice for a minimum of 2 weeks and then notice the changes.

3. The key is to slow your breathing down…..all the time. You might need to count to encourage a slower breath as we do in class.

4. Breathe lightly – don’t take in huge deep breaths, remember you want to be able to breathe like this all the time, so breath lightly – you shouldn’t be able to hear your breath.

5. Use this breath consistently until it becomes a habit.

If you do listen to the podcast you will hear all the science behind this and also some other simple techniques that can help you improve your breathing………..but, if podcasts are not for you, then implementing the above will help you improve your health and well being, reduce stress and sleep better.

 Listen to Dr Rangan Chatterjee’s podcast here