Contrary to what you might think, deep, excessive breathing, particularly through the mouth (hyperventilation) is dodgy because it brings in way more oxygen than the body can actually use. This excess oxygen doesn’t end up in your cells. What over-breathing does do though is constrict the blood vessels, block circulation, increase heart rate and BPR (all stress responses) and cause excessive alkalinity. It’s similar to what happens during a panic attack. You might feel similarly spacey after super intense exercise, but it’s not healthy and neither is it “good” for you in the long term.
Specific hyper-ventilation pranayama practises such as kaphalabati or bhastrika (or even Wim Hoff’s yoga-based breath offering) are always balanced with hypo-ventilation (breathing LESS than normal) – techniques such as “kumbhaka” (long breath retentions and suspensions) and this is the key, this is the magic!! (And contrary to what Wim states, any blood alkalinity created by the excessive breathing is quickly balanced by the breath retentions (which create a bit of blood acidity) because the body is constantly trying to get back to a neutral Ph.
In other words, It’s HYPO-ventilation that enables the body to build up CO2 and makes us feel calmer. The more CO2 we have, the more oxygen can be exchanged. When we have more CO2, blood vessels dilate, circulation improves, blood pressure decreases and overall health is enhanced. This is a rest and digest response – parasympathetic. At this point, oxy haemoglobin makes its way into the cells and tissues and our performance is enhanced considerably. Cells can also burn glucose far more efficiently and use it for energy. But hey, this is not new, nor is it a wild, sweeping claim so don’t take my word for it! It was noted by a scientist called Christian Bohr and is known as the Bohr effect.
Mouth breathing is NOT the way to breathe if you are seeking useful and longterm health outcomes. This is like telling our brain that we do not have enough CO2. Eventually, we lose the “fizz” in our blood, the lungs start to struggle and we will probably develop chronic symptoms. The best way to begin any mindful breathing practise is to simply relax, soften your belly and close your mouth.
Natural first, super-natural second… 👌🙏😉🕉