I am not a medical doctor (and I don’t play one here), but here is my guidance for applying the breathing principles in your life.
Applying the Breathing Principles
There are four components to starting a breathing practice:
Education on the importance of proper breathing for diabetes and overall health.
Assess and observe your current breathing and how it might be problematic.
Learn different breathing exercises that focus on reducing breathing rate and volume.
Following these four steps will ensure you are successful in starting and maintaining a breathing practice. Below, I lay out the key components of each of these steps.
This whole site is basically dedicated to number 1 above. In a nutshell, correct breathing can…
Increase insulin sensitivity
Lower blood sugar
Increase tissue oxygenation
Improve immune function
Restore autonomic balance
Reduce oxidative stress
Reduce anxiety and panic
Improve mental function
Increase physiological resilience
2. Assessment and Observation
Take the Body Oxygen Level Test (BOLT) (https://vimeo.com/310170130)
Take the CO2 Tolerance Test (https://powerspeedendurance.com/nm-breath-calculator/)
Start noticing when you mouth breathe. Observe what triggers it. Is it stress, physical exercise, or do you do it all the time? When you catch it, switch to nose breathing.
Notice if you sigh excessively. If so, when do you sigh most? Is it a habitual thing? Are there environmental queues?
Look at your blood sugar averages on your tester, or your HbA1c if you have a recent one. The end goal is to improve our blood sugars. So, as you begin your breathing practice, it’s good to know where you are starting.
Do you wake up with a dry mouth? Do you snore? Do have excessive daytime tiredness? These are good things to note…once you start taping your mouth at night, you might see dramatic improvements.
3. Breathing Exercises
Switch to nose breathing 24/7: (a) Tape your mouth at night. (b) Breathe nasally during exercise. Use your nose to guide the intensity of your workouts…if you cannot maintain nasal breathing, dial it back.
Practice Breathe Light. This will teach you to reduce your breathing volume. Start with 2-5 minutes a day and gradually increase to 15-20 minutes a day.
Next, practice slow breathing. I use a free app called “Breathing Zone.” Your goal will be to get down to 4-6 breaths/min. However, start at a rate that is comfortable and gradually reduce it.
Combine the two. Practice Wu-Wei Breathing: Breathe slowly and lightly. This is the final goal. Sit or lie down and breathe at a rate of 3-6 breaths/min, while also taking smaller breaths so that you introduce a slight feeling of air hunger.
The last step is to incorporate breath holds into your daily practice. However, this should be started under the supervision of a coach because breath holds can be very dangerous if done incorrectly. Here are some resources for getting started:
4. Practice Daily
Consistency is key. Breathing benefits compound over time, aggregating into amazing health benefits.
Also keep track of your progress by measuring your BOLT score, taking the CO2 Tolerance Test, monitoring how much better you are sleeping, noticing your increased energy, and checking your average blood sugars.