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Deep Breathing effects on the spine and muscles

Active Member

There's a ton of modern practitioners who correct body posture and muscle imbalances that say that the correct posture begins with breathing. 

Deep breathing, meaning breathing in so that your lungs are completely filled with each breath, massages the spine up and down as the abdominal cavity fills and empties. In addition the muscles of respiration all have an effect on the other muscles, only half-breathing with your chest leads to tight muscles across the body especially the chest and neck.

I think the importance of this is something that everyone on the forum should shift attention to. Here's a six minute video on the effects. I've also read "The Science of Breath" which I think is a yogic text, but that was a long time ago:

I already know these things but I've found this even harder than mewing to make subconcious. I'm trying to consciously breath deeply all day, and combining this with keeping my head aloft I've had popping all the way up my back/back of my head, and I REALLY feel the tightness of my back and side muscles. It's actually so uncomfortable for me to maintain this deep diaphram breathing, and I relapse so quickly without noticing, that I'm sure that this must be wreaking havoc on my body.

Who else is having this issue, and how have you made progress towards diaphram breathing all day

Topic starter Posted : 21/02/2018 10:51 pm
Reputable Member

I don't try to deep  breath all day, but I use it to help me release tight muscles especially the iliopsoas. For a muscle that can't be fully reached with the hands to do manual release, deep breathing does a decent job in achieving that.

By the way, I am not sure that its normal to be deep breathing all the time. What I understand is that its supposed to start on its own as you start to relax. If you are able to deep breath consciously then I see no reason why you can't do it subconsciously except for being stressed. In that case I would focus on removing tension and deep breathing would start on it's own. If on the other hand deep breathing is difficult to achieve consciously then I would suspect something wrong with the diaphragm muscle or a scoliosis condition restricting it's movement.

my story:

Posted : 22/02/2018 12:15 am
Member Moderator

Deep breaths in general are very useful for restoring  control and mobility of the muscles that guide breathing & posture. You will eventually reach a point where the full diaphragmatic musculature is engaged during every inhale, guiding the inhaled air deep into the bottom of your lungs. At this point breath should become subtle, silent and slow. Breathing that is visible or audible implies inefficencies in either metabolism/biochemistry or anatomy.


Remember that CO2 is highly useful to the body, there is no point to huffing it all out. You can experiment with bag-breathing to see how increased levels of CO2 calm you down, warm you up and give you focus. If bag breathing makes you feel better than your regular breathing, you are probably a chronic hyperventilator.

Posted : 22/02/2018 5:15 pm
Reputable Member

What Progress says above is largely consistent with the Buteyko breathing method. I became interested in it based on the parallels to our myofunctional practices, including strictly nasal breathing. I'm still learning how to implement the concept but the main idea is that most people are chronically hyperventilating, blowing off too much of their CO2. While Buteyko advocates diaphragmatic breathing it is pretty dismissive of the notion of deep breathing. Instead their ideal pattern is slow and shallow with pauses between breaths, reducing both the rate and the volume of gas exchange. It's counterintuitive, but the idea is that although deep, rapid breathing brings more oxygen into the alveoli, slow, shallow breathing keeps capillaries dilated, and the oxygen-hemoglobin dissociation curve shifted to the right, delivering more oxygen through the blood to the tissue. This process is a lot like retraining oral posture. You can consciously control your breath rate, just like the position of your tongue, but until you change your subconscious default behavior, your body will revert back to its old habits, especially during sleep. Buteyko practitioners use a metric called the "control pause" (CP) to monitor progress. CP is the number of seconds that you can comfortably hold your breath at the end of a normal exhalation before the first sensation of air hunger and returning to a normal (not faster or more volume than baseline) inhalation. It's hard to be precise because there is a tendency to hold your breath too long and then take a deep breath afterward or hold your breath too short because you are delaying the natural cadence. Mine seems to be a little more than 20 seconds. Buteyko sources say 60 seconds is healthy and longer is an indicator of exceptional health, endurance, and longevity. So if this is to be believed, then I have a lot of retraining to do. One point of contention I have noticed between Buteyko and Myofunctional therapy is that Buteyko advises against sleeping on your back. I suspect part of the reason is because most people will slip into old bad habits like mouth breathing when on their back. This is also why Buteyko advocates mouth taping during sleep. So I've started to wonder if I should stick mostly to side sleeping until I have more tongue space and can be consistent about my oral posture through the night. I'm not totally espoused to Buteyko, and would be interested to hear a debate about the merits of deep breathing. If others are interested to try Buteyko, let me know if you have any tips or resources to help put these ideas into practice.


Posted : 22/02/2018 10:03 pm
New Member

3 months ago I started practicing Buteyko breathing. I have incredible results just from the day:

1. My blood circulation has improved significantly. Before I often felt a state of brain fog (cerebrovascular accident).

2. I get enough sleep in a maximum of 6 hours. Before I could not sleep even in 9 hours. And often needed a nap.

3. I have much more energy. I used to feel tired often, even in the morning.

4. I began to easily tolerate both heat and cold.

At the moment, I have been practicing Buteyko breathing for 3 months. And I feel better and better. In addition to results above:

5. My vision started to improve markedly.

6. Much less food is enough for me.

7. I started do daily exercices. My body is just "asking" me for movement.

If you are interested here is the official site of those who continue the work of dr. Buteyko after his death:

It has English vesion. There is a lot of material, sufficient to understand the essence of the method.

You can read full Buteyko theory in this document (English version starting from page 52):

Posted : 14/08/2020 7:36 am
Active Member

You do not want to be breathing deeply all day.  Hyperventilating is hyperventilating. 

Quiet, shallow breathing is what you should aspire to do for 95% of the day.  Personally, I have had drastic improvements in sleep quality (and consequently energy levels) by using Buteyko exercises and reducing my overall breathing volume.

Deep breathing should be used mainly as a therapeutic tool.  Deep inhales and long exhales (done correctly) can help create intra-abdominal pressure and ribcage expansion, which is what we need to fix/optimise posture.  Look into the work of the Postural Restoration Institute (PRI) for a more thorough understanding of these principles.

Posted : 14/08/2020 8:14 am
Member Moderator



Glad to hear. What are your current CPs? Do your practices entail periodic exercises or full time reduced breathing?

Posted : 14/08/2020 9:56 am
Active Member


I haven't been taking or recording my CP with any real consistency, but I'd say I'm around 25 now.  When I started I was less than 15.

For the record, I've been taping my mouth for 18 months now, and in isolation it just seemed to make my chronic fatigue worse (As my nose was always stuffy at night, so I was effectively of suffocating myself).

Started Buteyko a couple of months ago with reduced breathing as much as possible, along with a few breath hold walks throughout the day.

But the major game changer for me was jogging (nasal breathing only). 

Obviously starting off was horrible (have done barely any running in the last ten years, let alone only with nasal breathing), but i've worked my way up to 15 miles a week.  Amazingly to me, I feel great throughout each run and could do much more.  But I'm trying to keep this a respiration practice, and I don't think the wear and tear is worth the extra miles and ego boost.

As a result, I feel better than ever.  Breathing at night is about as good as I could hope for, and I now wake up feeling rested.  Currently I do 5 days a week jogging, and longish walks with breath holds on the other two.  I'll also do a 5 minute RB session after meditation each morning.

I think Buteyko can work just as well (if not better) with a more conservative approach, but I'm impatient.  I don't think this is the recommended approach by most Buteyko practitioners, but I think jogging/cardio is a way of 'brute forcing' better nasal airways.  You need to signal to your body that you must have better nasal breathing, otherwise you'll die.

A lot of this depends on where you're starting from.  My breathing was pretty bad from the off, so marginal improvements were massive for me.

I took inspiration from this article:

Posted : 14/08/2020 11:00 am
Estimable Member

@WrongNotes super interesting, I'm going to try jogging.

Mouth taping at night has drastically expanded my nasal breathing capabilities but like you I still feel fatigued.  This is due to allergies that clog my nose.

As far as mewing goes, as soon as the breath deepens, the tongue goes straight to the roof of the mouth.

Posted : 14/08/2020 2:41 pm
Active Member


Great, but take it slowly.  Remember, the purpose of this is to practice breath control, not be a good runner.  Also - as the aforementioned article indicates - posture is crucial to ensure you can use your diaphragm optimally whilst running.

Posted : 15/08/2020 5:03 am
New Member


At the moment my CP is about 21 seconds. In the beginning of my Buteyko practice I didn't correctly measure CP, I think it was no more than 10 seconds.
When the symptoms of my illness were severe, I practiced exercises (reducing the depth of breathing by relaxing the diaphragm to a feeling of a slight lack of air).
I try practicing full time reduced breathing. But it's diffucult to do because you can't think about it all the time.

Also I practice jogging with nasal breathing.
I agree with @WrongNotes such jogging can really help to enforce improvement.
It's difficult at the beginning, but it's worth it.
I have to warn you a little. What I know from Buteyko method book, person should practice Buteyko jogging only when CP is more than 20 seconds and the main symptoms of the disease have disappeared.

Posted : 21/08/2020 7:28 am
Estimable Member

If you haven't read James Nestor's book "Breath" you may want to get a copy.  He actually details a story of a young girl who cured her own scoliosis, from a regimen of some rather interesting and unorthodox breathing exercises.

Posted : 21/08/2020 6:00 pm