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Breathing Skills For People With Respiratory Conditions On Bad Air Days

October 9, 2017

Last night some massive wildfires started sweeping through nearby counties and I woke up with a tight chest and a burning throat. It smelled like a Bar-B-Que outside when I walked my dogs this morning. My daughter's taking the dogs for another walk now and just reported, "It's raining ash".

Luckily I've learned skills to breathe as optimally as possible, and I want to share them with you now. Breathing smoky air downwind from fires is a risk for people with respiratory conditions and even others. My roommate said he woke up having trouble breathing and he has no history of troubled breathing.

Smoke is made up of a complex mixture of gases and fine particles produced when wood and other organic materials burn. The biggest health threat from smoke is from fine particles. These microscopic particles can penetrate deep into your lungs. They can cause a range of health problems, from burning eyes and a runny nose to aggravated chronic heart and lung diseases. 

So how do we avoid or minimize inhaling fine particles into our lungs? Here are three functional-breathing habits:

1. Breathe only through your nose. The nose, unlike the mouth, has filters to catch fine particles. The first line of defense is nose hair. The second is cilia, very small hairlike strands in our nose that constantly wave back and forth to catch particles. Cilia sweep dusty and potentially dangerous molecules toward our throat rather than the lungs, collecting them in a glob of mucus that we either cough up or swallow. 

The nose has other ways to clean air too. Nitrous oxide produced in the nasal passages sanitizes air. The nose also naturally warms up air to the temperature the lungs like to receive it. 

2. Don't breathe through your mouth, which is very common and a generally unrecognized health hazard, especially when the mouth is open anyway for talking, eating, and vigorous exercise. Air inhaled through the mouth goes straight to the lungs unfiltered and the smaller the particles of pollution, the deeper in the lungs they go. The lungs have mechanisms for ridding themselves of particulate matter but it takes time, involves inflammation and a lot of unpleasant coughing, potentially weakening the organ. 

3.Breathe less air. Breathe just as much air as you need and no more. Get into a calm, centered space and start breathing gently. Since so many people naturally hyperventilate, especially in an emergency or when things aren't going well, it's very possible you may be over-breathing on a bad air day. Once you do this, you may recognize that breathing less makes you feel better. A good image to keep in mind is, "breathe like a baby". You typically can't see or hear a healthy infant breathing. In fact many parents have woken up a sleeping baby because there were no visible signs of breathing. We're actually all supposed to be breathing like this. In many martial-arts competitions if the judges can see contestants breathing they lose points.

Practice these breathing skills every day to strengthen your respiratory capacity in an emergency.

Planting the seeds of lifelong healthy breathng in growing kids

July 3, 2017
The development of children's facial structure from Day 1 determines how easy they'll be able to breathe for the rest of their life. This article lays out the building blocks of lifetime good health very well.

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Interpersonal Synchronization

June 23, 2017

This week Neuroscience News released an article called "When Lovers Touch, Their Breathing and Heartbeat Syncs While Pain Wanes".

It refers several times to a concept called “interpersonal synchronization,” a phenomenon in which individuals begin to physiologically mirror the people they’re with.

That's the premise behind our new Summer Breathing Camp -- that members of a family share a breathing pattern and if one member has poor breathing habits and breathing-related health symptoms, o...

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How your teeth look and how you breathe are intricately connected.

June 10, 2017
I'll write more on this topic soon, but for now I just want to post a couple articles I've just come across that are right on.

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Slow breathing is inherently relaxating, study shows

April 20, 2017

A recent study at Stanford University shows how slow breathing induces tranquility. Read all about it here and try it! Normal breathing is 8-12 breaths per minute according to medical texts, and most people who come into the office for the first time are breathing twice as fast or more!

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Deep breathing is not good breathing

April 20, 2017
We have to counter the public perception that deep breathing is good breathing for daily life. Check out this video from a yoga teacher and how she changed her perception after she learned the Buteyko Breathing Technique.

And then there's this article I came across today -- "Why You Need To Re-Think This Popular Stress-Management Technique" with a beautiful explanation on how taking deep breaths can actually exacerbate anxiety! Please read.
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Nasal breathing makes you smarter

December 13, 2016
The jury is in. Read this study!

"Nasal Respiration Entrains Human Limbic Oscillations and Modulates Cognitive Function"
Journal of Neuroscience 7 December 2016

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A huge predictor of potential future health problems for babies -- mouth breathing

October 4, 2016

This week I finally learned the answer to my long-held question of why any healthy-seeming infant would be mouth breathing so young, since we humans are obligate nose breathers. Babies' mouths are supposed to remain closed unless they're feeding or vocalizing. Since I've been a breathing educator, it's really concerned me when I see friends' babies -- or kids in advertising photos -- with their mouths wide open at rest. 

In honor of "International Nose Breathing Week", I called respected speec...
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Top 10 Reasons To Stop Mouth Breathing and Breathe ONLY Through Your Nose

October 3, 2016
Here's a video we put together in honor of "International Breathe Through Your Nose Week" this week.

It covers everything from kids' breathing to snoring to sex!

Watch now and please share if you know someone who could benefit. So few people even think about this important health topic.

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Breathing Retraining For Allergies

March 30, 2016

Up until a few years ago, lifelong allergies kept me from hanging out at the homes of friends with pets. I missed scores of parties, and I envied people who could couch-surf or stay in someone's spare bedroom on trips, while I had to stay at hotels whenever I traveled to feel comfortable.

Have you ever experienced a feeling of separation from others -- wishing you could join the fun activities everyone else seems to be doing -- because of health symptoms? If so, read on.

My Story

It starte...

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 Discover whether you or a loved one have poor breathing habits.


About Me

Lisa Bowen I'm a breathing educator and I'm honored to help you breathe easier. Please send in your questions if you have any!


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I love it! I'd be honored to see your comments on my posts, and send any questions you have.




Lisa Bowen is not licensed as a healing-arts practitioner by the state of California.

Opinions, including blog posts, web content, breathing classes, coaching and other services from Breathing Retraining Center LLC are offered by teachers who are not licensed by the State of California as physicians or other healing arts practitioners, unless otherwise noted.  

We offer alternative, non-medical/non-psychological techniques, and our services are considered to be alternative or complementary to the healing arts that are licensed by the State of California.

For more information, see our disclaimer on this site.

Get your free copy of "The 10 Healthy Breathing Habits" tip sheet and put it on your desk, refrigerator or bathroom mirror!

(c) Breathing Retraining Center LLC 2011-2017

12 Mitchell Blvd., San Rafael, CA 94903

Breathing Retraining Center LLC’s educational products, courses and coaching are designed to improve breathing skills for people whose issues may be related to habits that have the potential to be improved, as a self-care/wellness activity. Breathing difficulty may be a warning sign of a life-threatening heart or lung condition, infection or other illness. Always check with your doctor about your own situation.

The Buteyko Breathing Technique and other breathing-retraining strategies we teach are an alternative approach and are not the practice of medicine, psychology or a form of psychotherapy, nor are they a substitute for seeking medical or psychological advice from an appropriate professional health-care provider. We want to make the important distinction between using the Buteyko Breathing Technique and other breathing-retraining strategies for health and well-being and the practice of medicine, psychology or any other licensed health-care profession.

Breathing classes, coaching and other services from Breathing Retraining Center LLC are offered by teachers who are not licensed by the State of California as physicians or other healing-arts practitioners unless so noted. We offer alternative non-medical/non-psychological techniques and our services are considered to be alternative or complementary to the healing arts that are licensed by the State of California.