Do you believe that your need to breathe is because you need more oxygen?
Well, actually oxygen is so readily available AND your body’s response to low oxygen doesn’t occur until you reach very low levels of oxygen in the blood. The real stimulus to breathe from your body’s intelligence and actions is due to carbon dioxide.
Yes carbon dioxide, CO2. It’s not a bad gas. It’s the by-product of ALL cellular metabolic process in your wonderfully orchestrated body. The signal comes first from the body, the kidneys, and then triggers the diaphragm to begin contracting to take a breath. The most natural way this is experienced is at rest without the mind watching, and controlling the breath…….sleep, so it’s hard to fully grasp what the body is doing. But there are ways to touch into this dynamic.
I’ll explain after I discuss your health and CO2.
Breathing has two phase, the “inhalation” and the “exhalation.” The inhalation is triggered by CO2. Through a lifetime of bodily and mental adaptions, your tolerance to CO2 in the blood lessens. This leads to an increase in your respiratory response to activities often resulting in over-breathing or hyperventilation. Therefore what you experience when you try to slow down the breath is a feeling of breathlessness. This is a significant impact on your health.
Hyperventilation, or exaggerated ventilatory (breathing) response, is a greater volume of air brought in than what your body needs or requires for its metabolic processes. This lessens your health and your healing capacities. And if you exercise or participant and train in sports, you will plateau with your performance to the activities you want to do. Also this affects mental health.
Here is a video explaining your respiratory response to metabolic need and how easily you could be in a hyper-ventilatory, or over-breathing, state during the day, during meditation or breathwork, during exercise, and even…yes even at night.
AND there is good news!
You can train yourself and regain a broader range of reaction to this drive with a tailored program to progressively improve your body-mind capacities. This is done with everyday breathing “exercises” and physiological stressors with recovery (similar to training to be stronger….you do something to stress the tissue and in recovery hopefully the capacity of those muscles, or your cardiovascular health improves).
AND because its intimately tied to all activities, including your sleep, why not weave it into your daily activities for health?
How do you get started in understanding how you relate and respond to CO2? And, more importantly, how do you know where to begin or what “exercises” to do to improve?
You need to know where you are. This simple measure will be very helpful for developing a tailored program and to know where to weave a breathing practice into your everyday life. Everyday breathing patterns influence your exercise AND sleep.
Here is how you can measure yourself: (this is not a test, or performance measure…this is simply to begin to know where you are)
Want to learn more about how you can harness the power behind each breath you take, and how to make the most out of health program that fits what you want and desire in your life? Check out these opportunities.
Article by Shawn M Flot, MPT. He is now a Certified Oxygen Advantage® Instructor. Combined with his 25year experience in Exercise Physiology, Physical Therapist for health and performance, and a dedicated Yoga practitioner is making for a power-house to help many people succeed in re-discovering their own health, healing and well-being.