always get a lot of funny looks when I describe Step 3 of the Essential Breath™ program, Adjust Breathing Volume. The funny looks start when I tell them that most of us breathe too much air. Yeah right, they say, then why does everyone from my yoga instructor to my doctor tell me to take big deep breaths and that it's good for me?
My answer is that the yoga teacher and doctor are all wrong; and the docs know it when you remind them of what they learned in medical school.
The Medical Community Measures Air Volume
The term the medical community uses for measuring breathing volume is "minute volumes", or the number of liters of air breathed in during an inhale. The medically accepted norm for one minute volume, is four to six liters of air, that is we breathe in no more than 4-6 liters of air each minute. A capnometer is a medical device used to measure this.
If we were to standout on the street with our trusty capnometer in hand, we'd find that most folks are breathing 15-20 liters of air per minutes or three or four times what is normal. For example, when I started the journey to change my breathing, I was breathing 32 liters of air per minute. I was breathing enough air for seven or eight people - ouch!
High Minute Volumes Reduce CO2 and NO Levels
If you had the chance to read Step 2 of the Essential Breath™ program you know that retaining ideal levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitric oxide (NO) are important for four body functions and general health. Breathing higher minute volumes, blows off CO2 and NO, making less available for these critical body functions. Breathing smaller minute volumes, breathing less air, retains CO2 and NO.
Conditioning the Body To Breathe Less Air
The final goal of the Essential Breath™ program is to adjust the volume of air we breathe and minimize the blow off of CO2 and NO. Like in Step 2 of the Essential Breath™ program, the breathing center of the brain, the medulla oblongata, can be taught that breathing less air is a good thing.
There is one very important breathing technique we employ to accomplish this. And with practice and patience, the amount of air breathed will reduce. As noted above, I started breathing 32 liters of air per minute. I now breathe about 5 liters. How you breathe really matters.