Finally I'm a healthy person!
A year and a half ago, I started practicing breathing reduction, based on the teachings of Konstantine Buteyko. His program included this exercise that you were supposed to do every day. So, for about three weeks, I did it every day. But I soon gave it up because I was struggling to hold a control pause any higher than 8 seconds, and the teachings say that a “healthy person” should be able to easily hold a control pause of at least 20 seconds. Any less than that, they say, is a sign of poor health and an imbalance in your body. I was told that if it weren’t for the fact that I exercised so much, I would have much more disease in my body because of my poor breathing habits.
Buteyko taught that an extremely fit and healthy person could easily hold up to forty second control pauses. My ego was riled. I considered myself a healthy person, at least. (and I’d even go so far as to say in excellent health and fitness) but I couldn’t even imagine holding a twenty second control pause, much less a forty second one!! It was frightening and demotivating to me.
So I stopped practicing every morning, but I never lost my awareness of hyperventilating throughout the day. By reducing my breathing, I was changing every aspect of my life, from the way I walked and talked and ate and slept. It totally changed the way I approached exercise, (once again!) So, it was enough, for a while, just to make those adjustments to my life. But 18 months later, these things have become habit, so this New Years was the perfect occasion to add the practice back into my life.
I was surprised that when I first started in January, how easy it was to hold a control pause well above eight seconds. I was using control pauses of 12 and 13 on average right away, and it wasn’t long before it was up to 16 seconds with ease.
Last Friday, the last time I practiced, in the twenty minutes that I practice for, I held a total of 14 control pauses and rested between them an average of 1 minute, 7 seconds. My average control pause was 21.8 seconds. Whew! Finally, I’m a healthy person! Now I’ll continue to do those daily exercises and strive for that 40 second control pause so one day I can be Buteyko healthy!
I’m sort of joking, of course. But I’m also seriously impressed with the non-measurable benefits of breathing this way. For the past year and a half, I’ve been reaping the benefits of being more grounded and centered and relaxed and sensitive by nose-breathing. It also, interestingly, serves as a gauge for how I’m feeling and what I’m eating; in that when I’m doing or eating something that isn’t good for me, I find it harder to breathe through my nose.
The exercise also serves as a great meditation. Even if I weren’t doing the yoga Kriyas in addition to my daily breathing exercises, I still feel like I’d be getting in a good meditation just by sitting there focusing on shallow, slow, relaxed, quiet, nasal breathing.
The third part of the morning ritual triad is my exercise. Breathing/Exercising/Meditating. But, I haven’t been doing that part. At all. But that’s a whole other story. Literally. On another page. I’ll write it soon.