Ideal Breathing Explained

by | Jan 25, 2021


I just wanted to give some insight into Ideal Breath Coaching but first we need to understand a little bit about breathing and how it serves us.


Breathing is intrinsic to life, and our breathing ‘behaviour’ is at the heart and foundation of our body and mind’s health. Breathing facilitates and governs internal chemistry, specifically the acid /base physiology. This continuous respiratory regulation repeated on average 20,000 times a day, either creates a balanced state of homeostasis or leads to deregulated chemistry causing many ‘stress-related’ symptoms

Overbreathing /hyperventilation

Professor Peter Litchfield, a leading figure in the studies of behavioural physiology, comments:

Overbreathing is undoubtedly one of the most insidious and dangerous behaviours/responses to environmental, task, emotional, cognitive, and relationship challenges in our daily lives. Overbreathing can be a dangerous behaviour immediately triggering and/or exacerbating a wide variety of serious physical and mental symptoms, complaints, and deficits in health and human performance.”

– Professor Peter Litchfield

Breathing Chemistry

Extensive scientific research over 30 years has linked hypocapnia, low CO2 levels in the body caused by overbreathing behaviour, with symptoms such as hypoxia caused by reduced blood flow and oxygenation to muscle tissue and organs, vasoconstriction leading to asthma, high blood pressure and muscle tension and over stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system leading to anxiety, insomnia, exhaustion and burnout.

To understand the causative factors of the symptoms above, we need to examine the basic principles of respiratory chemistry. The fall of the carbon dioxide concentration in the body from overbreathing leads to an alkaline shift in the blood as less carbonic acid is produced.

In this condition of respiratory alkalosis, the oxygen molecule clings more tightly to the haemoglobin in the red blood cells. This causes less oxygen to be delivered to the cells of the body. Add the vasoconstrictive effects of hypocapnia of smooth muscle in the blood vessels, then hypoxia can result. (See Diagram 1)

Diagram 1. Effects of overbreathing on Cerebral O2.1 Reduction of O2 Availability by 40 percent (Red = most O2, dark blue = least O2). In this image, oxygen availability in the brain is reduced by 40 percent as a result of about a minute of overbreathing (hyperventilation). Not only is oxygen availability reduced, but glucose critical to brain functioning is also markedly reduced as a result of cerebral vasoconstriction.

The body is in a continual synergetic flux with the aim of restoring and maintaining homeostasis which can be described as: “Various feedback loops maintain physiological processes within the narrow range that is compatible with life.”

The increased alkalinity of the blood triggers a compensatory effect known as renal compensation which filters off bicarbonates in the kidneys in an attempt to restore normal pH levels.

For example: have you ever needed to empty your bladder when about to deliver a speech, enter a room for an interview or prior to an exam?

Each challenging situation causes overbreathing leading to increased alkalinity of the blood and the renal compensation leads to a need to empty the bladder and excrete the bicarbonates out of the body system.

Thanks For Reading

So here is the first blog on breathing, nest time I will writing about the impact this has on our daily performance.

I hope you find this useful.

I am happy to discuss any queries, so drop a question over on FB ideal breathing lounge or book a call with me.

My next blog will be on how this can impact on your performance and following one on how you can become an ideal breather.

Thanks for reading and see you soon



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