Breathing is a powerful determinant of physical state. When our breathing rate becomes elevated, a number of physiological changes begin to occur.
Perhaps you’ve noticed this yourself when you‘ve had a fright; you might suddenly gasp, feel a little breathless and a little light-headed, as well as feeling some tingling sensations around your body.
You might already know that we breathe in oxygen – which is used by the body – and we breathe out carbon dioxide. In order for the body to run efficiently, there needs to be a balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide, and this balance is maintained through how fast and how deeply we breathe. Of course, the body needs different amounts of oxygen depending on our level of activity. When we exercise, there is an increase in both oxygen and carbon dioxide; in relaxation there is a decrease in both oxygen and carbon dioxide. In both cases the balance is maintained.
The normal rate of breathing is 10-12 breaths per minute.
Gaining control over your breathing involves both slowing your rate of breathing and changing your breathing style.
Use the calming technique by following these steps and you’ll be on your way to developing a better breathing habit.
1 Ensure that you are sitting on a comfortable chair or laying on a bed
2 Take a breath in for 4 seconds (through the nose if possible)
3 Hold the breath for 2 seconds
4 Release the breath taking 6 seconds (through the nose if possible), then pause slightly before breathing in again
5 Practice, practice, practice!