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Can someone hyperventilate without knowing it?

Posted by Lisa Bowen on Thursday, February 14, 2013 Under: Breathing Retraining
Unfortunately, many people hyperventilate without knowing it.

Before I learned about breathing retraining, I noticed that I became very breathless and uncomfortable when I read my toddler daughter several stories in a row.  "Wow, I'm just sitting here and I'm getting winded," I told myself. "Am I out of shape or what?!"

Well, yes.  And that was despite my asthma being controlled with steroid and reliever inhalers.

Dr. Konstantin Buteyko, who developed the Buteyko Breathing Technique starting in the 1950s, said that many of the common chronic health conditions people suffer from today such as asthma, allergies, anxiousness and snoring are just different expressions of hyperventilation, or over-breathing.  He posited that stopping hyperventilation would control and reduce symptoms of the conditions, and that has been true for many people who have learned his techniques since.

We've all seen, if only on TV or a movie, someone hear unexpected bad news and start showing signs of hyperventilation -- typically, rapid breathing, through the mouth, with a distressed look on their face.

Now consider everyday situations you may come across (and don't think anything of it):
  • A runner panting during or after exercise
  • Someone opening their mouth to get more air when they get out of a car or walk up a flight of steps
  • Someone laughing so hard they start coughing

And I always think of Julia Child too and her breathless way of speaking:



Dr. Buteyko called non-emergency over-breathing "chronic hidden hyperventilation."  We take 20,000-30,000 breaths a day so someone doesn't need to over-breathe that much on each inhale to cumulatively take in a lot more air than they need. 

Through breathing retraining, students can increase their breathing capacity and practice lifestyle changes to breathe in a relaxed manner while talking, eating and undertaking other routine tasks,

In a way, refusing to hyperventilate is a radical act.  The other day my daughter's behavior was escalating and she looked like she was about to start yelling  I told her honestly, "I'm starting to breathe heavier and I need to take a break."  That got her attention and she calmed down too.

In : Breathing Retraining 



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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.