Did you know that over one hundred of the most common health complaints in the western world have one consistent underlying element? The one thing that is either the direct cause of, or a significant factor in, the following illnesses:
- Airway disorders including asthma, emphysema, snoring, sinusitis, COPD, hay fever (According to charity Asthma UK 5.4 million people in the UK are personally affected by asthma.)
- Headaches, muscle pain
- Anxiety or panic
- Sleep problems, including sleep apnoea
- Immune system disorders including M.E., allergies
- High blood pressure
- Joint inflammation
- Low energy, lack of stamina
is dysfunctional breathing, most commonly the habit of chronic over breathing. Also known as hyperventilation, it is simply breathing an excess level of air per minute, which means you lose carbon dioxide too early in the breathing cycle. Sounds harmless, doesn’t it? However, our bodies need a very precise balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood stream AT ALL TIMES. Think how quickly even the most healthy person becomes dizzy and uncomfortable when blowing up too many balloons!
The science: When that delicate balance is upset, a process called the BOHR effect changes the PH of the system, reducing the rate of oxygen getting into the cells. At a specific level of carbon dioxide loss, smooth muscle tissue can go into spasm (causing asthma, IBS, or high blood pressure depending on the genetic predisposition). Over time, the immune system becomes exhausted, resulting in a wide range of conditions from annoying to life threatening. Anyone can experience this – many Olympic athletes have asthma and related conditions.
Fortunately over-breathing is a reversible habit, no matter how long someone has been doing it! As healthy breathing is reintegrated as ‘normal’, the body begins to heal itself. For example, asthmatics who follow the programme usually find they need less than half their usual reliever sprays (or even none at all) within the first week. It does take regular practice and awareness, but the principle itself is simple: breathe only as much as your body needs.
The Buteyko Breathing Method is clinically proven* to reduce symptoms of breathing disorders such as asthma by over 90% and measurably enhances healing for many other conditions including M.E., IBS and high blood pressure.
Using the Buteyko technique, sleep rapidly improves, and energy levels rise steadily as oxygen reaches healthy levels. Pain decreases for many conditions, as tension and inflammation reduce significantly or completely over time. And generally asthmatics get rapid relief! Panic sensations are often reduced as breathing calms.
Even if someone has developed the more extreme consequences of over breathing, they can expect measurable benefits in health and comfort levels. Even sufferers of mild to moderate emphysema can expect symptomatic improvement.
This approach requires awareness and regular practice initially to make a change. If the tailored programme is followed, patients WILL get measurable, worthwhile results. Over time, this new way of breathing and feeling becomes normal, until it generally only needs monitoring occasionally. The exercises can be reinstituted if needed of course, as better breathing will be a skill for life.
On a personal note: The original version was created by Professor Buteyko in Russia, and, although very effective, can be quite a harsh regime. Having struggled with the way I learnt it to overcome my own health issues, I’ve combined Buteyko with relaxation skills and powerful NLP – this ground-breaking tailored approach focuses on creating comfort and ease FIRST. It’s a much gentler approach and for many people is even more effective than Buteyko alone. (I call it the Personal Best Programme).
I’ve gone from decades of chronic, severe asthma and reliance on steroids to being completely free of asthma without needing medication for over 16 years (with my doctor’s approval.) I also used to suffer from severe agoraphobia and panic attacks. Once housebound from these afflictions, my life is totally changed for the better. I work, I travel, I teach. Now I offer the shortcuts to well-being that I used to dream of. I’ve been teaching this technique for over 15 years, having studied with Professor Buteyko’s partner, Alexander Stalmatsky, who brought it to the West.
Just in case you’re wondering how truly credible it is, the NHS has paid me to teach this technique to some of its staff. Although not all doctors are familiar with it, the idea of functional breathing is a core principal at the specialist Brompton Hospital in London. And I will personally GUARANTEE results with my own clients if they follow my advice – feel measurably better, or don’t pay me!
The basic principles are easy to learn, and if you’re already a therapist, recognising dysfunctional breathing and having some exercises to teach your clients can be a valuable addition to your toolkit, whether or not you undergo the full training. Of course, ensuring your breathing is healthy helps you be the excellent role model you want to be.
Always seek medical advice before reducing preventive medication. *The clinical trial referred to was conducted at Glasgow University and consisted of 600 patients. The average improvement was 94% reduction in asthma symptoms and medication use achieved by the 3 month mark and MAINTAINED over 12 months.
Therapist, trainer, author, artist
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