Are you willing for a moment to suspend your belief that big breath is better?

Like so many others immersed in the world of yoga, I have practiced and instructed deep breathing through traditional pranayamas: oceans of breath filling our yoga studios with noisy ujyayii waves, and dragon breaths of fire. Big. Muscular. Full bodied. Audible. Generations of us have believed all this effort demonstrates the essence of healthy breathing. After all more breath MUST be better. We’re told this is the way to calm our nervous system and reclaim our equilibrium.

But, what if we got it wrong and bigger breathing is actually increasing the load on our bodies and interfering with our ability to cope with whatever the stressors might be: physical, mental or emotional?



The Benefits of Breathing Lite


The wise yogis knew that everything needs to be held in balance. Overall their counsel was to become more internally efficient and need less. The practices of yoga are meant to enable us to be self-reliant and self-aware. As we practice, the body and mind are to become refined, stable, relaxed and still. The breath, our internal compass can take us into that state more readily than anything else. The yogis knew this too. That is why they counseled us to breathe LESS — to restrain the breath and make it more subtle. A quiet relaxed mind follows a quiet relaxed breath. 

After all...


It turns out that western respiratory physiology backs up the yogis intuitive understanding. LESS breath is better, healthier in every way!


Causes of Hyperventilation

  • Prolonged low grade stress

  • Overeating or eating highly acidic/processed foods

  • Lack of exercise

  • Overuse of stimulants

  • Exposure to pollutants

  • Chronic pain, illness

  • Grief

  • Emotional outbursts

  • Excessive talking (teachers and sales people especially susceptible)

  • Allergies, Hay Fever

  • Chronic cough, COPD, Asthma

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Slow and Reduced Breathing...

  • Raises pulmonary CO2 levels

  • Cutting lung ventilation in half prompts blood levels of CO2 to double.

  • Brain blood vessels dilate and MORE blood can go to the brain

  • Decreases inflammatory processes and restores pH balance

  • Results in calm alertness and increased awareness.

  • Increases vitality, decreases the need for sleep, reduces craving and supports aerobic fitness

Learn more about how Buteyko-breathing can help you address: asthma, hay fever, allergies and chronic cough; snoring and sleep disorders; anxiety, chronic fatigue, IBS and other chronic inflammatory conditions including hypertension.

Learn how to breathe light and live more — check out these resources:

From the EYT Blog: