During the process of breathing, oxygen is drawn into the lungs and excess carbon dioxide is exhaled. The respiratory center located in the brain continuously monitors blood pH, carbon dioxide, and to a lesser extent oxygen. When the level of carbon dioxide in the blood increases above programmed levels, the respiratory center transmits impulses that tell the respiratory muscles to breathe in order to remove the excess gas. When we breathe too much over a period of hours to days, as in the case of chronic stress, the respiratory center adjusts to a lower tolerance of carbon dioxide.
Having a lower than normal tolerance to carbon dioxide results in the respiratory center increasing the rate of impulses to the respiratory muscles. The result is habitual overbreathing and excess breathlessness during physical exercise.
You are practicing this exercise correctly when you slow down and reduce your breathingbsufficiently to create a tolerable need for air. The need for air signifies an accumulation of arterial carbon dioxide, the goal of which is to reset the respiratory center’s tolerance to this gas. To assist with this, it is very helpful to exert gentle pressure against your chest and abdomen with your hands.
Try to maintain the need for air for the duration of 4 to 5 minutes
To practice this exercise, it can be very helpful to sit in front of a mirror to observe and follow your breathing movements.
Sit up straight. Allow your shoulders
to relax. Imagine a piece of string gently holding you up from the top of the back of your head. At the same time, feel the space between your ribs gradually widening.
Place one hand on your chest and one hand just above your navel.
Feel your abdomen gently moving outward as you inhale and gently moving inward as you exhale.
As you breathe, exert gentle pressure with your hands against your abdomen and chest. This should create resistance to your breathing.
Breathe against your hands, concentrating on making the size of each breath smaller.
With each breath, take in less air than you would like to. Make the in-breath smaller or shorter.
Gently slow down and reduce your breathing movements until you feel a tolerable hunger for air.
Breathe out with a relaxed exhalation. Allow the natural elasticity of your lungs and diaphragm to play their role in each exhalation. Imagine a balloon slowly and gently deflating of its own accord.
When the in-breath becomes smaller and the out-breath is relaxed, visible breathing movements will be reduced. You may be able to notice this in a mirror.
– the oxygen advantage