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  • Published: 17 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9780143776413
  • Imprint: Random House NZ
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $29.99

How to Take a Breath

Reduce stress and improve performance by breathing well


Breathing covers a spectrum of needs, and it is important to know the best way to breathe in order to meet our needs at any moment, and how best we can move through sleep, rest, activity, exercise, sport, play, work, stress, ill health and recovery.

Breathing well means many things, so for the purposes of this book I have decided to focus on a few categories.

The first is relaxed breathing. It is important when considering how we breathe to always aim to achieve relaxed breathing at rest. This will take us into the green zone and put us into astate of calm. This is the ultimate and if you cannot achieve this, nothing else really matters as this pattern will set the fundamentals for movement and situation-specific breathing patterns. Relaxed breathing is the go-to we all should be trying to achieve throughout the day and before we go to sleep at night.

The second is breathing with movement, which I call effective breathing. Effective breathing refers to ideal efficient patterns of breathing for when we are moving.

The third is stimulatory breathing. The respiratory system andlungs need to be exercised and expanded to remain healthy, so stimulatory breathing practices are ways we can rev up our system to prepare us for a challenge or any other demand that may be placed upon us.

Finally, the rehabilitative component of breathing retraining is the base of physiotherapy. This involves breathing re-education related to ill health or other conditions — for example, breathing well with asthma or COPD, or following COVID, fatigue, surgery or injury.

Breathing well at rest and for relaxation is nose, abdominal,effortless, rhythmical, with a longer exhale. This is breathing in its simplest form, but nasal matters should always come first. Bear in mind that it can take anything up to six weeks or even more to recondition the body to use your nose.

Top tips to improve nasal breathing

Releasing tension

When you did the body scan on page 57, you may have found you had a tight, tense jaw. This will prevent nasal breathing, so try thisexercise in which the emphasis is on the tongue and ensuring that it is resting in the correct place.

• Say the letter ‘n’ as in ‘action’ or ‘Boston’.

• This places the tongue on the roof of the mouth behind the upper teeth, with the teeth slightly apart. (Your teeth should only touch when you are eating.)

• Keep the lips together and jaw relaxed.

Nasal rinsing

Habitual mouth breathers usually manage to successfully restore nasal breathing with nasal saline/bicarbonate rinsing to reduce nasal irritations. (See page 246 for a solution recipe and rinsing procedure.

How to Take a Breath Tania Clifton-Smith

Learn how to breathe well for reduction in stress and anxiety, better sleep, clearer thinking and improved performance in sports and at work, written by an experienced clinical expert in breathing function.

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