The meaning of ‘deep’ as in ‘deep breathing’ is often misinterpreted and to your detriment

Everywhere I look, I mostly see references to breathing measures to combat a variety of conditions described as deep breathing. As my brilliant colleague Melody Mitchell will tell you, ‘deep’ implies an increase in volume and to fill the lungs with more air and super long inhales. Deep should denote the location as in low in the abdomen. I also refer you to the equally brilliant Lise Windfeld Bornerup and a recent case note of hers: “Just yesterday I had a new client whom the hospital had given the diagnosis ‘hyperventilation’ and the message, “there’s nothing we can do about it. You could see a physiotherapist, they may know how to help you.”

Thankfully the patient chose to see Lise and within the first hour, she had found the culprit. Her client had been taking yoga classes twice a week and been sent home with the following exercise. ‘At least twice a day do the following: lie on the floor, breathe in for 4 sec. hold for 8 sec. breathe out for 8 – next breath – be sure to breathe in as much air as possible as deep as possible.’

She developed angst, anxiety, pain, panic, amongst many other things. She is a teacher, “unable to get enough air” to talk to her pupils. The worst for her was the urge to yawn. After an hour of “normal” breathing her control pause (a measurement of your breathing tested via the ability to hold your breath then resume breathing without taking excessive air) went up and up, suppressing the yawning. She was amazed and happy that she didn’t have to continue the hyperventilation life. She did a few of her yoga postures using Buteyko (Reset’s preferred education technique of) breathing and felt so much better. Just the simple thing of closing her mouth did a lot – the yoga guru had praised the long emptying of the lungs in the exhalation with an open mouth as the only way. And of course, Lise recommended her to read Robin Rothenberg’s brilliant book as she loves yoga. Thank you Lise, and Melody for all that you do. Find them both on facebook.