The man kindly taught her how to breathe
slowly and deeply from the abdomen,
concentrating on a long out-breath,
letting the in-breath take care of itself.
“It will relax you,” he said. from: ‘The Holy Man’ by Susan Trott
Why optimal breathing?
Optimal breathing® is achieving our best natural breathing under all circumstances, whether at rest or at play. Optimal breathing is an important element of overall health as well as good natural vision. The retina, if compared by weight, requires more oxygen than any other part of the body. The brain requires lots of oxygen too, and because seeing is largely a mental process, it follows that if there is insufficient oxygen supply, our vision will be negatively affected. Conversely, an abundant supply of oxygen to the eyes and brain will help us see better.
All healing originally resides in the human breathing system Rudolf Steiner
Natural vision and optimal breathing go hand in hand
One of the first people who came to me for vision improvement after my optimal breathing development training was a lady whose breathing seemed very restricted. I decided to teach her how to improve her breathing before addressing her vision habits. After just a few minutes her breathing began to loosen up, and she joyfully announced that she could already see an extra line on the eye-chart behind me.
Find the cause of shallow breathing
What causes us to lose our natural breathing pattern?
This will differ for everyone, so here are some possible factors:
* Muscle tension from stress or holding on to emotions is often the biggest factor. It can reduce rib cage flexibility and/or cause diaphragm deterioration if left unresolved.
* One factor I notice many of us have in common is tight clothing. We like to pull our belts tight, whether for fashion or to hide a bulge. The result is a restriction of space for the abdomen to move into when the diaphragm pushes down.
* Posture problems are definitely related to shallow breathing.
* Being overweight makes it harder for the diaphragm to move down on an inhale.
* Air pollution, including using ‘air fresheners’ in the home, other household chemicals, smoke and/or paint fumes can cause us to instinctively restrict our breathing and can irritate the lungs, which may lead to infections.
If any of these possible causes apply to you, then determine for yourself if it is time to make some changes to help you return to natural breathing. If you do, your whole life will be enriched, not just your breathing or your vision.
The blood chemistry of breathing: Acid/Alkaline balance
Beside the mechanics of breathing, another factor to look into is the alkaline/acid balance of the blood, because an overly acid pH will cause a faster breath rate. The body automatically increases the expiration of CO2 in an effort to return to proper alkalinity. If the cause of over-acidity isn’t addressed, the breath rate will stay too high, despite any attempts to slow it down.
Relaxation and natural breathing
As with vision, breathing requires dynamic relaxation for optimal function.
– The more we relax as the diaphragm rises with each exhale, the more used air is expelled and the easier and more efficient our next inhale will be.
– The more our belly relaxes, the easier it is for the diaphragm to push down so our lungs can fill fully with fresh oxygen.
– The more our intercostal and chest muscles relax, the more our ribcage can expand with each inhale, allowing for a fuller breath.
– The more our back muscles relax, the more use we can make of the full capacity of our lungs as they expand effortlessly in all directions with each inhale.
… there is no absolute “correct” method of breathing; there is only breathing coordination. The muscles and sets of muscles of the human respiratory mechanism are designed to operate in a perfectly coordinated synergism to give the individual the maximum breathing efficiency of which he is capable and to give it to him with a minimum expenditure of energy.
From ‘Dr. Breath, the story of breathing coordination’ by Carl Stough
How can breathing be improved, besides relaxing more?
To release the often long-held tension in our bodies, and learn to relax in our movements, it may help to take a few sessions with a breathing coach. The breathing techniques I teach are safe, fast and make a real difference in the ability to breathe fully and easily. I am an Optimal Breathing® Development Specialist, trained by Mike White, and I have also been trained in Authentic Breathing™ techniques by Dennis Lewis. I teach breathing as part of a regular vision class depending on the individual’s needs.
What about yogic breathing exercises?
Natural Breathing teacher Dennis Lewis says it well in ‘Free Your Breath, Free Your Life’:
As the popularity of yoga continues to surge, breath-control exercises are becoming increasingly popular. As useful and powerful as breath-control exercises can be in well-defined situations, however, their indiscriminate use can result in harmful biochemical and hormonal imbalances, affecting not just the body but also the mind. What’s more, exercises involving breath holding and muscle tensing can over time result in restrictions in our breathing muscles and tissues and undermine the harmonious coordination required for healthy breathing. They can even damage the lungs through overstretching of lung tissue. As Optimal Breathing teacher and therapist Mike White points out: “Any breath-control exercise that we repeat too often will bring about restrictions in our breathing.”
Imagine a world without trees…
It will take your breath away.
How do I know if my breathing is below par or not?– Take a free breathing test!
You can evaluate your own breathing by taking a free breathing test, simply click on the image above, it will take you to the start of the test. And you can check out the information put together by Mike White, who is an expert on optimal breathing. He may also be able to recommend a breathing coach in your area. Listed below are more breathing teachers and their classes are well worth your time if you suspect you need some help in returning to natural breathing patterns.
There are good books available on breathing development; see the list on the books page.
Mike Whitegives a ten minute talk about breathing and includes vision at the end of this video:
Save your breath, you may want it to clean your glasses later… Jules Tannen