Physiology

Breathing is typically understood by most of us as being automatic and reflexive. And, that intentionally manipulating it can be useful for relaxation, improved oxygenation, and meditation. But what is inevitably overlooked is that breathing, like any other “behavior,” can be unconsciously configured as a habit at anytime and anywhere, and usually for not such obvious reasons, e.g., avoidance of pain. These habits, although they somehow serve us, may become dysfunctional when they compromise respiration and other physiology.

Respiration compromised by breathing habits may have profound immediate and long-term effects that trigger, exacerbate, perpetuate, and/or cause a wide variety of emotional (anxiety, anger), cognitive (attention, learning), behavioral (public speaking, test taking), and physical (pain, asthma) changes that may seriously impact health and performance.

Breathing habits point to the most fundamental, practical, and profound factors that account for:(1) the far-reaching effects of dysfunctional breathing habits (e.g., deregulated plasma pH, chronic contraction of muscles in the jaw), as well as for (2) the surprising benefits of self-regulatory breathing habits (such as, improved cerebral blood flow for improved attention, learning, and performance).

Breathing regulates body acid-base balance, specifically the pH of extracellular fluids, that is, blood plasma, interstitial fluids (that surround all body cells), lymph, and cerebrospinal fluids. It does so from moment to moment, breath to breath. It controls pH by regulating carbon dioxide concentration within very specific limits. Hence, breathing plays a central role in delivery and utilization of oxygen (through its effect on hemoglobin), electrolyte balance, circulatory physiology (blood flow), acid buffering (like lactic acid), kidney function (bicarbonate and sodium), and muscle function (smooth and skeletal).

Breathing is optimal when respiratory chemistry is regulated by reflexes,regardless of whether or not one is relaxed or stressed, excited or bored, active or inactive, working or playing, focused or distracted. When these reflexes are disturbed by breathing habits, unbalanced extracellular acid-base chemistry (pH) is the result, along with symptoms and deficits usually misinterpreted and mistakenly attributed to unrelated”causes.”

The CapnoTrainerĀ®is a powerful tool that provides a direct means to determining whether or not and if, when, where, and how a dysfunctional habit may be present.