HomeAboutAsthma and how the Alexander Technique helped me3 points on how to breathe

3 points on how to breathe

For years I thought I should help myself by breathing for myself, this may sound familiar, well the secret is, you and I can breathe without doing anything, you do it when you’re asleep and you can do it when you’re awake. It was a strange discovery because I know I could consciously control my breathe when I was swimming and when running. I’ve found that type of breathing isn’t very effective.


  1. I thought I was doing a good job but I wasn’t
    1. because I didn’t know how to consciously breathe
    2. because I didn’t know the physiology of  breathing, I just guessed
    3. because i didn’t know the psychology of  breathing, I just tried
    4. because I didn’t know about proprioception, where I was in space
  2. I thought I should know how to breathe
  3. I thought I don’t need to ask how to breathe

These thoughts were tough to discover for myself and I guess may be hard for you, especially when breathing is so simple; please ask friends and family to describe how they breathe, you’ll get lots of answers, some rather strange.

The first thing to know is that you don’t need to do anything to breathe, it just happens from your first to your last. What happens is that we invent ways to breathe and we watch and listen to others, basically we mimic our peers as we do for many of our learnt habits,

  • speaking has a family accent,
  • the way we eat, the way we dress,
  • the way we behave.

So breathing can also be learnt.

We can also use breathing to attract attention, get sympathy, get love. We do this by mimicking distress, rapid breathing or holding a breath. Help arrives, attention is gained and breathing returns to normal. If these habits reemerge in later life, as they did with me during a particularly distressful time in my life, then life stops unless an inhaler was close to hand.

I didn’t know these 3 points, especially the third, I thought I didn’t need to ask how to breathe and didn’t, someone came the my aid.

The first thing to discover is to notice what is going on both physically and then what was the thinking that was just before the physical reaction. One stimulus I used to have was steep hills, I would be immediately out of breathe at the bottom of the hill, even before I really started the hill. I discovered I was holding my breathe because it was going to be hard work. Really stupid and I also did it if I ran across a road, I’d be breathless in a dozen yards. This was my physical response to the stimulus; holding my breathe when there is something tough on its way. I don’t why I do this, perhaps it was noticing people trying really hard, they take a full breathe and heave, it may work for heavy lifting but not for hills or running.

What do you do when things look like they’re getting tough, it would be good to know. Observation is the key to change things, if you don’t notice you will keep doing the some old thing. Hills don’t worry me anymore, in fact I now enjoy them as they aren’t too much effort, I sometimes have aching legs but my breathing is fine

  1. because I do know how to consciously breathe
  2. because I do know the physiology of  breathing
  3. because i do know the psychology of  breathing
  4. because I do know about proprioception, where I was in space

If you want to know more I’ll doing a series about breathing from my mailing list, you can always unsubscribe when ever you want.

Get noticing what you do.