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Does the Way You Breathe Really Matter?

Is paying attention to the way you breathe really important? If you look around you and notice how people breathe, you will find that different people breathe in unique ways. Some may breathe more rapidly than others; while others breathe more deeply, and yet others pause more often. Is there a right way or a wrong way to breathe? Is there a normal way?

Some research suggests that there is a normal, or natural way to breathe that produces optimal health. , However, only about one in ten people breathe that way, but all can be taught a breathing technique that fosters normal breathing over time. According to the research, when a person is breathing normally, there is a very specific balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the system that encourages the body to function at its healthiest level.

A common assumption seems to be that the more you have of a good thing, the better, which is why so many people encourage others to calm down by breathing deeply. We know we need oxygen for cellular respiration, which is the process by which nutrients are converted into energy, and that the byproduct of this process is carbon dioxide. In our minds, therefore, we tend to think of oxygen in positive terms and carbon dioxide in negative so that we want more of the former and less of the latter. Therefore, we regard taking deep breaths and deep breathing as healthy reactions to difficult situations.

However, when people have learned a specific breathing technique in order to foster normal breathing, they have discovered that breathing deeply is as aberrant as hardly breathing at all. The logical parallel is to food. Although eating food is good for us, eating more food than you should is not even better. The same principle applies to breathing, which is why normalizing the way one breathes through a breathing technique can lead to better health.

Extra oxygen is not going to be transported to the cells and tissues of the body just because one breathes more deeply. The amount of oxygen that is moved through the body by the blood depends on factors such as how much hemoglobin is in the blood and how much pressure exerted by carbon dioxide is present to support the hemoglobin. Breathing normally therefore depends not only on oxygen intake, but on the healthy presence of remaining carbon dioxide in the bloodstream. Using a breathing technique can optimize the distribution of both components for greater transference of oxygen and the ultimate health of the body.