Do we take our health for granted?
I have pondered this question very deeply on many occasions. With good reason, too – my life served me some very unusual curveballs to deal with.
My eyes has been something that never worked as most other people’s eyes, and I have always dealt with double vision of varying severity. So whilst being grateful that I was not blind, and extremely thankful for two major eye surgeries that helped, I appreciate how fragile and uncertain health can be.
We focus on pain, internal organs, cognitive function, joint health a huge amount of time, with good reason. But what of our vision, hearing, sense of balance, and breath itself?
With November being a COPD (Chronic pulmonary obstructive disease) awareness month, I wanted to talk about breathing. Something we take for granted, until we find it does not come easy anymore.
COPD is a progressive lung disease which makes it increasingly more difficult to breathe. It tends to develop over a number of years, and affects how we are able to do our daily activities as lung efficiency reduces.
It is brought on, typically, by smoking, or being exposed to breathing irritants for a long time, but also by asthma or a rare genetic condition.
So, if you smoke, please STOP. Please do. Now.
Air quality is super important for any COPD sufferers, but also for everyone else. Breathing irritants are often a workplace environment hazard – think chemical and welding fumes, dust from flour, coal, and air pollution.
It has recently been reported that a 9 year old's asthma death has been linked to air pollution. With the Cop26 Climate Change Summit just finished, let's all hope change happens, although it's hardly been the incredible success we had all hoped for, has it?
What can we do to help our lungs?
Lung function, and the ability to breathe well into our ribs, is super important for us whether we have COPD or not!
There are many things we can do to improve our breathing.
Firstly, we should focus on ribcage mobility. This is amazingly important for our posture and back and core strength. By being flexible in our ribs so that they expand well in all directions naturally, we keep our body strong and centred. I do tons of work on this with my clients both in 1-1 and group classes. In fact this winter we are doing a term with special focus on this! Why not send me a message to find out more or join our sessions online?
Secondly, we should all do breathing exercises to encourage our body to breathe well.
Our breath should be measured, smooth and even. A good way of going this is practicing Box breathing:
1. Sit comfortably where you won’t be disturbed 2. Breathe in through the nose to the count of four 3. Hold the breath to the count of four 4. Exhale slowly to the count of four, until no air is retained 5. Retain the exhale for a count of four
A more advanced way to train breath is the 4-7-8 breathing: 1. Again, sit comfortably where you won’t be disturbed 2. Breathe in through your nose to the count of four. 3. Hold the breath to the count of seven. 4. Exhale through your mouth to the count of eight. 5. Repeat
Both breathing techniques calm the nervous system down, regulate the gas exchange – oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide – in our body, teach us to be more tolerant to the exhale, and increase our lung capacity.
The Buteyko method
Whilst many other breathing techniques exist, I really ought to mention the Bukeyko method as potentially the most powerful breathing method that exists. This is a masterful approach to teaching us to not over-breathe, promote nostril breathing, and improve breath awareness. It has been shown to be amazing for asthma sufferers, reduce breath shortness, wheezing and coughing and generally clear the airways. It is well worth looking into for anyone who cares about their lungs and does not take breathing for granted.
I offer a free 20 mins complimentary online breathing patterns review if you book with me before the 6th December. During this, we can check to see if your breath is optimised so that you can make the most of your inner core strength and overall stability, or would you benefit from improving these patterns.
Message me to secure your spot!
To your health, Kaye x