Use these five tips to master the Buteyko Eucapnic breathing method and your asthma
1. Understand how your body works – so you can identify the cause of asthma and associated breathing problems
Myth: You need to breathe in as much oxygen (O2) as possible, and breathe out all carbon dioxide (CO2).
Reality: Your body needs a balanced, stable supply of both O2, and CO2. Note: CO2 is produced in the body, and stored in your lungs.
Best: For optimal health, CO2 should comprise 6.5% of the gas mixture within your lungs. When your CO2 level falls below that, you’ll experience early symptoms of up to 150 diseases, particularly asthma.
Thankfully, your body recognises when the CO2 level is getting low and triggers two self-defence mechanisms to retain the existing level:
One: It constricts the air pipes and blood vessels to close off the lungs.
Two: It creates more mucus to block the air pipes. Result: The constriction makes you feel ‘tight’ and the mucus makes you cough. This is asthma.
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2. Recognise how to tackle asthma and breathing difficulties – and you could start to eliminate them
Fact: The key factor in controlling the CO2 level in your lungs is how much air you breathe in and out. Breathe out more CO2 than your body produces, and the level will drop.
Breathe out less than is produced, and the level will rise.
To fix this, begin by normalising your breathing – this will often be enough to maintain your CO2 level and resolve asthma and other breathing problems.
Statistic: At rest, the amount of air needed by a healthy person breathing in and out is 4-6 litres per minute. But: Someone experiencing symptoms of disease may be breathing 15-27 litres – this is much more than is actually needed; but it’s the amount your body has been trained to want.
Try ‘shallow breathing’ – breathing lightly so that you experience a feeling of a slight lack of air. Do this by relaxing the breathing muscles of the shoulders, chest and without attempting to control the size or length of each breath. Doing this will re-train your body to reduce the air breathed until it is closer to the amount that’s really needed.
3. Breathe in and out through your nose only – and learn to remedy nasal-related problems
People with a CO2 shortage often experience blocked noses.
To fix this, take a normal breath in, let a tiny breath out, pinch your nostrils and hold your breath. Keep holding until you feel a definite need to take another breath. Now, let go of your nostrils and breathe as little as possible through your nose. If it’s still not clear, repeat the exercise
4. Improve your posture – this automatically helps you to breathe easier
You’ll naturally breathe less by keeping your shoulders down and relaxed and straightening and lengthening your spine. Instead, imagine a helium-filled balloon is attached by a thread to the crown of your head. It is floating gently upwards. Keep your head level and aligned centrally with your ears directly above your shoulders. Then look up without moving your head at all.
5. Stop breathing – it’s the quickest way to build up and maintain CO2 levels
Do it until you feel hungry for air. Note that the feeling of slight suffocation you’ll experience is because you’re trapping more CO2 in your lungs than you’re used to.
To quickly increase your CO2 levels, repeat the nose-unblocking tactic – usual breath in, tiny breath out, pinch nostrils, hold your breath. This time, hold your breath for as long as you can (but not so long that you gasp when you eventually let go). Maintain the feeling of wanting more air by keeping relaxed and still. Allow just enough breathing to occur so that you don’t feel suffocated.
Practising these breathing techniques
three times a day for 20 minutes per session should produce an immediate, dramatic reduction in your asthma symptoms – and may make future mediciation unnecessary.