An Introductory Guide

Peter M. Litchfield, Ph.D. and Sandra Reamer, MFA, MS, CBBA, CBBP, CSOM, CBT

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Breathing habits, optimal respiration, and acid-base physiology

Breathing is a much bigger subject than you might have ever imagined. It is about much more than simple mechanics, which are good or not so good, e.g., breathing with the diaphragm, or not. It is about much more than oxygen in and carbon dioxide out. Merely focusing on breathing techniques to make you feel better, e.g., slow breathing for relaxation, overlooks the enormity of role of breathing as behavior in health and performance.


Breathing is behavior and is driven psychologically, not just physically. This means that we all learn breathing habits, bad ones and good ones. Good breathing optimizes respiration and balances acid-base physiology. It requires precision reflex-management of CO2 in the blood (and elsewhere) that regulates body pH from moment to moment. Bad breathing habits compromise this physiology and can trigger insidiously debilitating outcomes, e.g., a panic attack. Good breathing habits can optimize this physiology and enhance health and performance both immediately and in the long term, e.g., a successful public presentation.


Breathing and respiration are not the same thing. Breathing is behavior. Respiration is reflexive. Breathing habits operate based on their triggers, motivation and psychological outcomes. When these habits are not aligned with respiratory chemistry, there is trouble, lots of it. Are your habits working for you, or against you? How are they affecting you? What can you do about them? Unfortunately, there are many misunderstandings about breathing and respiration that are the basis of misguided breathing self-help techniques everywhere.


CapnoLearning brings together physiology, psychology, and technology to create powerful tools for identifying good and bad breathing habits, for learning to disengage habits that compromise physical and mental competence, and for learning new breathing habits that promote health and performance. Understanding breathing as behavior makes these objectives possible through implementing the principles and applications of breathing behavior analysis. This guide provides both an introduction to CapnoLearning and 14 different practicums using a CapnoTrainer.

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Publisher: Breathing Science, Inc.

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation

April 2023, ISBN: 979-8-218-16278-8

©2023 Peter M. Litchfield & Sandra Reamer.  All Rights Reserved