Don't Forget to Exhale
The importance of the exhale!
When we think of breathing, often there is a drive to get air into our system but, for many of us, the exhale should be more of our focus.
People with Hyperventilation syndrome (chronic and rapid breatheing) are unlikely to know their breathing is negatively impacting them but may be more aware of the symptoms/side-effects this breathing pattern has on their body: Anxiousness, headache, moodiness, tiredness and muscle pain are a few to name but a few.
Hyperventilation Syndrome causes serious complications in the system mainly because it leads to excessive exhalation of carbon dioxide; though we might think this is a good thing, our body requires carbon dioxide to maintain optimum blood pH, which in turn, ensures cells receive the right level of oxygen. By breathing out higher percentages of carbon dioxide, strangely, our body experiences a decrease in the amount of oxygen it can receive. This happens because of something called the bohr effect; carbon dioxide has acidic properties so, by exhaling it out too quickly, our blood becomes more alkaline which causes a change in our blood chemistry. Blood cells (haemoglobin) holds onto oxygen rather than releases it for body cells to draw in.
The most challenging part of hyperventilation syndrome is our body learns to experience lower carbon dioxide levels as what it wants; this means a vicious cycle begins... we feel to require more and faster breathing not to feel out of breath. Is it any wonder we become anxious or feel stressed and frustrated!
So... don't forget the importance of the exhale!
Breathing Exercise to encourage a deeper exhale:
A great breathing exercise for this is the 4:7 breath.
1. Breathe in for four seconds and out for seven seconds (allowing your body to find a natural pause at the top of the inhale, and bass of exhale)
If you want to challenge yourself then you can increase this to 5:8, 6:10, 7:12... etc.
What is this breath good for?
As you get into the higher numbers, there is a strong demand to calm the nervous system and control breath. Incredible for focus and also for helping you to get all the air out. Great for the skin, blood pressure, confidence, well… Everything!
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