Patrick McKeown

You’ll Learn:
– Common breathing mistakes
– The best way to breath
– How the balance of CO2 in the lungs is critical
– Simple techniques to activate nose breathing at will
– How to improve the quality of your breathing
– How to get improved health through quality breath
– Contacting Patrick McKeown

Disclaimer -the information on this site is not medical advice. Before making any changes to your lifestyle, diet, exercise, drug or supplement routines you must first discuss the changes with a licensed professional. 

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Clint: Well, thanks for joining us today for the Paddison Podcast, special episode today with best-selling author of a book called “The Oxygen Advantage.” His name is Patrick McKeown and he has coached over 5,000 people, both professional athletes and also Olympians on how to use the breath to achieve optimum results. Today, we’re going to talk about the breath, how we should breathe and how it can impact our health. So, welcome Patrick. Thanks so much for coming on this episode.

Patrick: Thanks very much, Clint. I’m very happy to be chatting about this. I think it’s a very important story. And it was a few weeks ago, we received an email of somebody who had come across your work, who was using it. They said, well, the two of us should be put together. So that’s how the contact was made.

Clint: It’s good, isn’t it?

Patrick: The world is a small place, like I’m at a place now in the west of Ireland and you’re in Australia, you know, it’s easy to bridge that gap, reach the other side of the world. I think the breath is a fundamental place. And in of terms human physiology, if, for instance, we were to come across somebody who was looking for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the first thing to do is to check his airway. Breath is king and airway trumps everything. We know, as human beings, that we need a certain amount of food each day, not too much, not too little. We also need to drink a certain amount of water each day, not too much, not too little. We can actually drink too much water too, which can be toxic. But with breathing, nobody seems to know how much air should we breathe. And, given the importance of it, in terms of human survival, I think it’s very important that we know that it must fall within defined parameters.

Now, our breath changes. Many factors change our breathing. Stress, for example, will change our breathing, excessive talking, lack of physical exercise, stuffy environments and human, you know, the modern life, factors of modern living are changing breathing. And, it’s not making us breathe less, it’s actually making us breathe more. So sometimes, that can be a hard pill to swallow when I say it for the first time. I, for 20 years, had very bad asthma. I had obstructive sleep apnea. I had fatigue. I had high stress levels. I was a chronic mouth breather. My nose was always blocked. And, I came across this in 1997 and I first learned how to decongest my nose, which I can show you the exercise very easily.

I switched to nose breathing and it was remarkable, the difference it made to my life. But, despite going to healthcare professionals for 20 years, as a child, as a teenager, nobody once said, “Patrick, breathe through your nose.” Now, we know from studies that 50% of children habitually mouth breathe. It hasn’t, that I’m aware of, been studied in adults. I have not seen a figure, but I think it’s in around the same.

The context of this is that the human nose performs 30 functions in the human body. That was written by Dr. Mars Clauster [SP] back in the 1970s. He was an ear, nose and throat consultant. One of the functions that the nose performs is that there’s a gas called nitric oxide that’s released from the paranasal sinuses into the nasal cavity. When we breathe lightly through our nose, we carry a higher concentration of nitric oxide into the lungs and nitric oxide opens up the airways, but nitric oxide also assists in our arterial oxygen uptake. Nose breathing has been proven and Professor Jon Lundberg from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. He’s written many papers on this about the benefits of nasal nitric oxide for arterial oxygen uptake.

We can improve the oxygen uptake in the blood. The key is, when the oxygen is carried in the blood, it’s carried by hemoglobin. In order for oxygen to be released from hemoglobin, we need another gas and that’s called carbon dioxide. But if we breathe too much, we get rid of too much CO2, so we lose carbon dioxide because it’s our breath that determines the concentration of carbon dioxide in the blood. And, if for instance, we are breathing to much, of course, we’re gonna get rid of carbon dioxide from the lungs, too much of it, and as a result, we’re gonna reduce the concentration of CO2 in the blood.

With lower levels of CO2 in the blood, oxygen isn’t released so readily from the red blood cells. That’s called the Bohr Effect that was discovered back in 1904. Now, those two things point to something. I was told two things back in 1997, I was told to breathe through my nose and I was told to breathe light. That’s what I practiced and it changed my life. And, when you look into the medical physiology, a normal medical textbook will show the oxygen dissociation curve, it will show the relationship between carbon dioxide and oxygen.

In the western world, we have this belief that oxygen is good and carbon dioxide is bad. That’s not true. We can have too much oxygen, that’s why we have antioxidants and we have too little carbon dioxide. In order for oxygen transfer to take place, from the blood to the cells, we need carbon dioxide, not too much, not too little, and that’s what the whole premise is in improving health. Because with modern life, we have developed this habit of breathing too much. And, carbon dioxide isn’t just a facilitator in the release of oxygen from the red blood cells, it also relaxes smooth muscle. Smooth muscles surrounds our bloods but also surrounds our airways. So, we have 100,000 miles of blood vessels throughout the body. And through our breath, we can influence whether we are opening up our blood circulation or constricting it.

I suppose, when I’m trying to communicate this to individuals, I ask people, “Well, how would you breathe when you get stressed?” I say, “Do you breathe fast or do you breathe slower?” They say, “Well, when I get stressed I breathe faster.” I say, “Do you breathe using your upper chest or your diaphragm when you’re stressed?” They say, “I breathe using my upper chest. I sigh more when I stress. I take bigger breaths in. My breathing becomes noisier, so I breathe more when I’m stressed,” and I say, “Well, how do you feel? How would you feel if you continue taking those big breaths?” They say, “Well, I get lightheaded, I get dizzy.” I say, “What does that suggest?”

Now, we know what stress breathing is about. And it’s on this basis that it doesn’t make sense to take that deep, big breath of fresh air because we’re already breathing too much during the stressful event. We should be doing the opposite. Instead of breathing faster, we need to breathe slowly. Instead of breathing using the upper chest, we do need to breathe using the diaphragm but lightly. We do deep breathing but we do light breathing. Instead of sighing, we want to achieve regular breathing. Instead of over breathing, we want to have normal breathing.

So, I can go through a couple of different exercise and then your own listeners can practice it, because I think ultimately the proof is, can we influence blood circulation through the breath? Can we influence body temperature and can we influence the amount of saliva in the mouth and can we open up the upper airways. Now, the first exercise… Do you mind if I do it with you?

Clint: Look, you’re on a roll. Just, you keep talking. You keep talking and we’ll just listen along. This is fascinating.

Patrick: Okay. The first exercise to decongest the nose. Right now, it just affects about 30% of the western population. So the nose gets stuffy and then, as a result of that, they’ll often open the mouth to breathe. And that kind of starts the viscous circle because as soon as you start opening the mouth to breath, then your nose is going to get even more stuffy. So to decongest the nose…

Clint: Why is that? Do we know why that is?

Patrick: There is different theories as to why it’s happening. But, one theory…and there’s a number of papers to support it is based on carbon dioxide. Because again, when you’re breathing too much, you’re losing CO2. As the loss of CO2, arterial blood vessels constrict but venous blood vessels expand. So, you have inflammation of the nose as a result of breathing too much. Now, another theory in that the exercise that we do helps to decongest the nose. It may be because we’re able to activate the sympathetic or the stress response of the body. So, we’re giving the body a little bit of a nudge, and by doing that, just by changing the environment, we can open up the nose.

I’ll explain it anyway. It’s very simple. Now, for your individual, say, with high blood pressure, with any kind of heart complaints or any serious medical complaints, I’d say go pretty easy with it. But, for everybody else, it is a safe enough exercise.

So, to decongest the nose, we take… is the normal breath in through the nose and normal breath out of the nose, you pinch the with a finger and you hold your breath. And as you’re holding your breath, you start nodding your head up and down. And you hold your breath until you feel a fairly strong air shortage. So, if you keep on holding your breath, keep holding your breath, and as you’re holding your breath, keep relaxing into the body. Keep relaxing into the body and keep holding the breath until you feel a fairly strong air shortage.

When the air shortage gets seemingly going too strong, just let go, breathe through your nose. So maybe let go there. Let go there because I don’t want to over do it on the first one. We’ll do a couple of, you know. So, maybe even, with the first one, go easy enough where there’s [inaudible 00:09:22]. So, that’s the exercise that we would do just to unblock the nose. Now, you can feel a little bit lightheaded just doing that. Don’t worry about it. It’s just initial. So, we do it five times and the nose should start to open up. You can test your nose if you do this for me, [inaudible 00:09:38]. Okay. You’re doing it again.

Clint: You want me to…

Patrick: You keep on holding… Yeah. So, you’re holding your breath. Keep holding, keep holding, keep nodding your head up and down. Continue to do it until you feel a medium to strong air shortage but it shouldn’t be stressful. So, it shouldn’t be stressful. So continue to do it until you feel a medium and then to release and minimize your breathing at the end.

Now, if people, say, have arthritic issues, maybe they’d be better off just gently swaying their entire body as opposed to their neck depending on the individual. You could actually do it just walking around. The exercises that we do is we have a combination of addressing this function of breathing pattern and also breath-hold exercises. So, we’ll do this a couple of more times, I’ll just give you a little time to recover. Small breath in, small breath out. Pinch your nose, nod your head and keep holding your breath and hold your breath. And as you’re holding your breath, keep relaxing into the body. Hold your breath until you feel a strong distinct urge to breathe and then let go. Breathe through your nose and minimize your breathing, and that’s minimize your breathing then. So, we still to do it about two more times.

Now, that exercise is different than our other exercises. So, you won’t feel… generally, you won’t feel warm while doing that exercise. Some people do but generally they won’t, it could actually feel colder. So, you have to keep on holding the breath, keep holding the breath, keep holding the breath, keep holding the breath, keep holding the breath, keep holding the breath. And, when it gets pretty difficult, you let go, you breathe through your nose. And then, we’ll just it once more. Now, if you has slight nasal obstruction, which generally most people will have, one nostril is a little bit more blocked than the other. If it’s reversible, it will open up.

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Clint: Hey, whilst I do my next exercise, can you just comment on whether or not it’s normal to have one nostril work while the other one takes a rest or is that something that mum told me that was not true, while I do it again?

Patrick: No, it’s absolutely true. In a good nose which works pretty well, they’ll switch every 90 minutes or so. And, one of the theories is that, the side of the nostril, whatever hemisphere of the brain is working is influenced by whichever nostril is opened and closed.

Clint: Is that right?

Patrick: This has been put to the test as well, because [inaudible 00:11:59] will do alternate nasal breathing. So they switch in order to activate different hemispheres of the brain. So, say for a right-handed person, if for instance your nose is very much blocked and you’re breathing through the right nostril, it means that you’re activating the left hemisphere, you’ll tend to be more excited. So, in order then to calm the individual, you want to block the right nostril, to breathe through the left, to activate the right hemisphere of the brain, to calm the individual down.

So, it is a book called “Psychological Approaches to Breathing” and they speak about this, the rhythmic…now, some people with… I have a deviated septum so you’ll find, in that instance, that they don’t work as good as they should be. But we’ve only one rule of thumb, if you can breath through your nose for one minute, you can do it for life. So, if somebody comes in to me with nasal congestion, I have them do that exercise. And if they can breathe through their nose for one minute, they can do it for life. Now, they may feel that they’re not getting enough air initially, but the exercises are designed then to slow down breathing to reset the respiratory center in the brain, so that their breathing is [inaudible 00:13:08], so that they can maintain nasal breathing.

Clint: Okay. Well, this is fascinating to me so far. This is really, really interesting stuff. I tell you, when I was developing a lot of my digestive issues before I actually got rheumatoid arthritis, I used to find that eating ice cream or eating wheat foods would instantly cause my nose to block. So, there was something going on at that pre-rheumatoid phase, where within minutes, my nasal passage would block. Now, I never knew how to shift that situation. And, every now and then, whether it be pollen or maybe there are still some food sensitivities that I have, but sometimes that does happen and I can’t explain it.

And so now, I’m going to use that technique to try and clear it because, I think, we all know intuitively that nasal breathing is the optimum method and that that’s how we should be breathing. And, everything you’ve just explained is all of the stuff that we don’t know, but is fascinating to people who just kind of don’t think about it too much. You know what I mean?

Patrick: The human nose doesn’t get the attention it deserves and it’s crying out for attention. I spoke about nitric oxide earlier on. You know, if you look at somebody’s breathing, if they’re breathing using their mouth, they breathe using their upper chest. Once you start breathing through the nose, you start activation to the diaphragm, so you start taking the air from the upper down into the lower. But also, once you start breathing through the nose, nitric oxide takes the blood from the lower lobes of the lungs to the upper. So, breathing through the nose brings the air from the upper part of the lungs to the lower and nitric oxide brings the blood from the lower part, because the concentration of blood in the lungs is mostly in the lower part because of gravity, because we stand up.

So, nitric oxide re-distributes the blood through the lungs and nasal breathing re-distributes the air. So, it’s called ventilation perfusion. We want ventilation perfusion because we need a good gas exchange taking place. There’s no point in having the greatest concentration of blood in the lower lobes and the greatest concentration of air flow in the upper because there’s mismatch there. It’s probably in that reason that it’s been shown to improve our arterial oxygen uptake.

However, they do know, with tuberculosis, that it’s very important that, for instance, in reducing chest infections…and I’m sure then I can take it one step further, not just people who have TB, who are prone to chest infections. Now, that ventilation perfusion is very important for keeping chest infections to a minimum. The nose sterilizes the incoming air and the mouth doesn’t.

Now, I wanna talk about how can you breathe to change your blood circulation. And I think this very important in order to get more oxygen delivery to the cells and it’s very simple. Earlier on, I talked about how do we breathe when we get stressed. We said we breathe faster. Well, I said, okay, well then, we need to slow down the breath. So, I’m gonna have you now as the guinea pig. So, one hand on chest, one hand just above your navel. So, you’re sitting up straight, one hand on chest, one hand on your navel. All I would like you to do is just to tune into your breath.

So, probably the easiest place to feel the breath is just coming in and out of the nose. So, you may feel just slightly colder air coming into the nose and you may feel just slightly warmer air leaving your nose. So you may feel just slightly closely, there’s your breath in there and there’s your breath out. There’s your breath in and there’s your breath out. So, you’re just gently feeling the airflow coming in and out of your nose…and don’t worry if you don’t get it quite right because it can take a little while to master, but I’ll give you the basics.

What I want you to do now is just to gently slow down the speed of air as it enters and leaves your nostrils. So, as you’re feeling the air coming into your nose, I want you to slow down the speed of the air as it enters and leaves your nostrils. I want you to slow down your breath, not to hold your breath, not to freeze your breathing, not to deliberately interfere with your breathing muscles, just to gently soften and slow down the breath. But, I need you to slow down your breathing to the point that you feel that you’re not getting enough air…and we will explain that later. So, I want you to gently slow down your breath to the point that you feel you’re not getting enough air and I want you to try and maintain it there.

Now, if it gets a bit stressful for you and your breathing muscles get jumpy, just take a bigger breath or take a rest for 10 or 15 seconds. But until then, keep gently softening the breath. Keep gently quieting the breath, keep gently calming the breath. So, your objective is to tune into the airflow coming into the nose and tune into the airflow leaving the nose and gently soften the airflow as it enters and leaves your nostrils. So, you’re slowing the speed of the air coming into the nose and you’re slowing down the speed of the air as it leaves your nose.

Your objective is, can you breath so lightly almost as if you’re not breathing? So, the general rule of thumb during rest is, our breath should be through the nose. It should be light, quiet, calm, driven by the diaphragm, regular and gently paused on the exhale. So, we’re just gently softening the breath. But here, during this exercise, I need you to feel air shortage. I need you to feel that you’re not getting enough air. So, we’re just gently softening the breaths. Now, the need for more air is not a drop of oxygen, it signifies that carbon dioxide has accumulated a little bit in the blood. But as I said earlier, carbon dioxide is the catalyst for the release of oxygen from the red blood cells, Bohr effect. CO2 increases, pH lowers and oxygen is released more readily from the red blood cells to the cells.

But, as carbon dioxide increases, it will also influence your blood circulation. And as you gently soften and reduce your breathing, it may activate the parasympathetic nervous system. So, we’ll continue it say for about 20 more seconds. Again, you’re just tuning into the breath in, tuning into the breath out and you’re just gently softening the breath, quietening the breath. Don’t hold the breath, don’t freeze your breathing. All you’re doing is just slowing down the speed of air as it enters and leaves your nostrils. So, you’re slowing down the speed of air coming into the nose and just slowing down the speed of air as it leaves your nose.

The objective is that you feel that you’re not getting enough air. If it feels too much for you, make your breathing a little bit bigger. If it’s too little, the air shortage, make your breathing a bit smaller. So, just take a rest at that. You can take a rest at that. It’s a little bit strange because we have this belief that the more air we breath, the better. Now, your eyes are glassy which are a good sign. Is there any change in the saliva in the mouth? Is your mouth dry or is it wet or is it the same?

Clint: That’s the one thing I wasn’t paying attention to because I was thinking about the other things but I feel very…

Patrick: That’s all right. Is there any change in temperature?

Clint: I feel very energized, like I feel very, very primed to… I feel alert and primed, ready for whatever we’ve got to do next. And my nose is breathing exceptionally clear. It feels really clear.

Patrick: You can feel it… [crosstalk].

Clint: It was clear before we started this conversation, I paid attention to that before we started talking, and it was clear when you asked me to do the exercises the first set. But, it’s super clear now. It’s just resistance free.

Patrick: We’re gonna do another three-minute session.

Clint: Okay.

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Patrick: So, what I’d like you to do now is, Clint, I’d like you to take a small breath into your nose, a small breath out your nose. Pinch your nose and again gently…or you can sway your body to give people a different… So, you’re holding your breath and sway our body. So whenever you’ll go, just do it once.

[00:21:32] [silence] [00:21:43]

So you keep holding your breath until you feel a medium to strong air shortage. And then, let go and then calm your breathing, and then calm your breathing. Okay. So, there’s two aspects to it. The reduced breathing that we do will tend to activate the parasympathetic nervous system but this will tend…the breath hold tends to activate the sympathetic. So, we’re taking the body out of sympathetic, parasympathetic, sympathetic, parasympathetic, and it may be we’re causing the body to make adaptations.

Now, with physical exercise, we use pulse oximetry. So we measure… We have a little hand-held device, it’s very simple. You buy them very cheaply and we’re looking at pulse oximetry. During normal physical exercise, oxygen levels may drop, say the SpO2, which is how fully loaded are the red blood cells with oxygen? It will drop from about, say, 98 would be normal. During physical exercise, it may be down to 93. That would be during an intense sprinting, for example.

Now, when we take it one step further…by incorporating breath holds during exercise, we take oxygen from 98 down to about 85 to 80. So we completely disturb the amount of oxygen, but at the same time, carbon dioxide…we greatly increase carbon dioxide. So, we cause a hypoxic hypercapnic response.

Now, when you subject the cells to less oxygen, because of hypoxia, the hydrogen ion that’s coming from the metabolism isn’t going to get neutralized because there’s not sufficient oxygen. As a result, then it associates pyruvic acids and it forms lactic acids, so you’ve got increased acidosis. Now, increased acidosis is a problem with people doing physical exercise, not just athletes. You got somebody with chronic fatigue and they go out for a 20-minute walk and they feel very…the pain can be as a result of the increased acidity.

Now, what we do is we have them do very limited physical exercise. It could be just walking 15 paces, but we do breath holding. So we’re using the 15 paces to disturb the blood gasses. And, as a result of the disturbance to blood gases so that the body makes adaptations. So, the body improves its buffering capacity. So, the body then is able to cope with to delay the onset of fatigue and lactic acids. Now, most of my work is with sprinters as a pretty good level because, of course, they’re going to be on a [inaudible 00:24:25] when they’re doing their sprint. So we do that but the same principle.

The Buteyko method…one of the symptoms of using the Buteyko method…and I have to say, I’ve only worked with a small amount of people with arthritis, so I can’t give you…it wasn’t a field that I specifically worked in. But the principle, like one of the symptoms or the conditions have with the Buteyko method in Russia is arthritis. I can send you on the list so that you can see through it.

But, I think with somebody who is impeded from doing physical exercise, how can you make the maximum amount of their physical exercise when they’ve got limited mobility? Instead of getting them to go faster, we restrict the air intake and that causes the adaptations.

Clint: That’s awesome because some of our listeners and some of the people who are afflicted very heavily with this condition are not able to do a lot of exercise. And, my general guidelines to everyone is, the more exercise, the better. Now, there is an exception to that and that I think is the extreme exercise, which virtually none of us are capable of, if we’ve had damage to our joints or whatever, like not many of folks with RA are sprinters.

But, I think and maybe this doesn’t quite connect with what you’ve just said, but just to close off what you just said, I think that’s very, very powerful. And, if you have a technique for how to do that or maybe that’s something people can get from your book because I have more questions for you and we’re kind of using up a lot time here. But, let me ask you a question about the acidosis and moderate exercise versus acidosis and extreme exercise, because almost without exception, people with rheumatoid arthritis, if they engage in medium level or cardiovascular levels of exercise, have pain relief as a result. And, up until now, my explanations around this include, one of which is to drive down acid levels in the body because it’s in an oxygen state, the exercise.

With your expertise, how do you feel about that kind of explanation as part of… There’s several other reasons as well, like moving the lymphatic system and getting the joints moving which helps to clear out, circulating immune complexes. But, I feel that a reduction in acidosis due to oxygenated exercise is part of it. Is that fair to say?

Patrick: Yeah. I would agree with you. I think another aspect, maybe the increase in heat, that the muscle… You’re increasing body temperature. Because again, there’s a number of factors that cause a release of oxygen from the red blood cells. If I measure somebody’s pulse oximetry, generally it’s normal. But then, I speak to the individual, they say they’re tired and they’ve got these issues. These issues can be related to not enough oxygen being delivered to the cells. Now, there’s plenty of oxygen in the blood but the oxygen isn’t getting from the blood to the cells.

Now, we would look at chronic hyperventilation, the loss of CO2 or the bond between oxygen and red blood cells strengthened. However, another factor that causes the release of oxygen from the red blood cells is increase in body temperature. If you move a muscle, the muscle gets hot and generates carbon dioxide and those conditions facilitate…because that muscle is telling the body, “I need oxygen.” So, by getting hot and by increasing CO2, oxygen comes to the muscle.

So, the cardiovascular exercise, you’re increasing CO2. Also, because it’s within your limits, you’re not going into that hypoxic state. What I will think that some people may, if they’re quite seriously debilitated that even a light physical exercise with them could actually increase the acidosis…so I wouldn’t exactly know what exactly is happening, but from the point of view, I think body temperature can be considered as well in how it’s helping the individual. You’re producing more carbon dioxide. Anything that helps to get more oxygen to the cells has to be a good thing.

Clint: Okay. Fascinating. All right. Well, I have a huge list of questions here. We’ve had a wonderful discussion. I hope people are finding this extremely valuable. I certainly am. Have you got anymore fundamentals that we should go through that you could describe? Or the ones that you’ve covered, should that get most people through most of the nasal breathing congestion problems?

Patrick: Yeah. Look at sleep as well, a lot of people wake up with a dry mouth in the morning. We actually use a piece of paper tape. I know it seems a little bit strange because we do want to ensure nasal breathing.The individual wakes up alert. When you’re alert waking up in the morning, you’ll tend to have a better day. Whereas, if you’re waking up groggy all the time, it has a mental aspect to it as well. So, nose breathing all the time, and if the nose gets congested, you can use the nasal congestion exercise.

I would encourage individuals to practice slowing down their breath and seeing can they change their body temperature. [inaudible 00:29:40] I forgot to ask you earlier. When you’re slowing down your breath to the point you have air shortage, if you sustain that air hunger over, say, three to five minutes, your body temperature should increase a little bit.

Clint: I did feel that.

Patrick: That will show you that your… You did feel it. I will show you, which is great, that the blood vessels are opening up a little bit. Be conscious of your breathing during stress and also physical exercise with the mouth closed. So, I spent four years writing a book called “The Oxygen Advantage” and that was looking at it specifically for sports And there’s other books out there as well that I’ve written for anxiety and different complaints. The main topics that I would have worked with are sleep, respiratory, anxiety and children…children who grow up mouth breathing, it changes the shape of the face. So, then you have a narrow nasal cavity, narrow nostrils, jaws that are set back, narrow airways. And this has been well documented, that a child who persistently mouth breaths during childhood, it increases the risk of obstructive sleep apnea, not just during childhood but for life long, because their jaws are not forward enough in the face.

So, I think there’s a huge awareness that we really need in terms of getting the information out there. I would also suggest alongside the exercise programs that I’m sure you’re doing physical exercise, maybe bring in some breath holding because you’re going to push the boundaries a little bit. You’re challenging the body but you’re challenging it within its limits. So you can get adaptations but you shouldn’t be pushing the body into sickness, if you get what I mean.

Breath holding is a… I have a guy, as I was saying to you just before we went on here, and I was working with him via Skype, and he’s been using this with kettlebell training. Now, he doesn’t do any explosive exercise. He does limited motion. He’s a 33-year-old young guy but he had arthritis that was to the point that it was quite limiting for him. He’s found quite a difference with it. We still have some… This needs research, this area. What’s going on exactly, I don’t know. But, all we know is that there’s no side effects from breathing through your nose, there’s no side effects from changing your breathing. And bringing in breath holding will challenge the body a little bit once you don’t over do it. And most people…you can do it within your own limits very easily. So, I think it’s worth pursuing, absolutely, yeah.

Clint: Yeah, for sure. Okay. Well, I’m sure everyone listening to this right now is trying to breath through their nose whilst taking in this information. We’ve had a guest on the show in the past called Wim Hof. I’m sure you’ve come across a lot of his work.

Patrick: Yes.

Clint: Are there similarities and differences and what are your thoughts on any overlap with the strategies that you put forward compared to what Wim teaches?

Patrick: You know, there are similarities in terms of the breath aspect of it. Wim, he does 25 big breaths in and out through the mouth. We wouldn’t necessarily agree with mouth breathing but I don’t agree with the big breathing, because it doesn’t bring any more oxygen to the blood, but it will lower CO2. Now, the breath holding that he does, I absolutely agree with that, that’s what we do ourselves. Funny enough, he breaths out and holds is what we do, because you get higher hypoxic… a stronger hypoxic hypercapnic response.

So, there’s more similarities than there is differences. And the main difference is the 25 big breaths. We just don’t do the 25 big breaths. We do the breath holds. We’ve got different exercise doing the breath holds. We generally have pulse oximetry to see the oxygen saturation lowering. And I think it’s good because it is a challenge to the body. If you hold your breath to disturb blood gasses, you’re gonna force the body to make adaptations. And, by increasing the buffering capacity, that’s when there’s a delayed onset of lactic acid and fatigue in terms of physical exercise.

But also, when you address dysfunctional breathing patterns, you’ll get more oxygen delivery to the cells. So, if you have better breathing in the first place, you get better oxygen delivery. So, there’s quite a lot going on there. I like his work. I think his work is very good. I’ve read his book. I’ve watched some of the videos, and I have to say, that’s the most commonest question that we’ve been asked to the point that we’ve… last week we said we can’t answer each individual email, so we said we’re gonna put a page together which we put up in our website, making just a comparison so people can check it themselves.

Wim Hof Page:

Clint: Fantastic, fantastic. Well, that’s very reassuring to hear. Now, let’s see if there was something… Look, let’s talk specifically, any experience or anecdotal evidence that you have with arthritis and nasal breathing techniques, do you think that it’s possible to relieve pain directly from improved breathing? My gut feeling on this is yes, but I’d love your input on that as sort of we get towards the end of this conversation.

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Patrick: I would say yes but only on one premise, that we can improve oxygen delivery to the cells. If, for instance, I went down to my local… I’m gonna say western yoga and I don’t want to label everybody in the same, okay? But, if I went down to my local western yoga and if I’m told to take big breaths and to fill my lungs during rest and if I can hear people breathing in the studio, I’m gonna say it’s not gonna make sense. Western civilization is breathing too much. We are eating too much. We are breathing too much.

If we are eating too much, it doesn’t make sense to tell somebody to eat even more. And, with breathing too much, it doesn’t make sense, we should be telling them to breath less. I think the best way to prove this is, if your clients are working in yoga, instead of taking the big breaths, have subtle breathing and make their breathing as light as possible. If you think of it this way, when we do meditation and if we go into after, say, a long-term meditation with involving days, our breath almost diminishes to the point of nothing. And, what we do is bypass [inaudible 00:36:11], bypass the meditation, just deliberately slow down the breath to nothing and on that basis we can get the adaptions. So, breathing is great but be careful how you breath.

Clint: Fantastic. One of the instructions in the Bikram Yoga class that I’ve been to several hundred times, this very strict teachers say that we shouldn’t be hearing anyone breathing during the periods of Savasana on the floor. Then, meditation, two thumbs up, just to use the technique of breathing that you’ve just described. Beneficial, correct?

Patrick: Yes. I’d be happy to send you on an mp3 file if you want to share it with your listeners.

Clint: That would be great.

Patrick: It’s involving relaxation but it’s incorporating the instruction with relaxation. So, you can do the two together. You know, I think meditation is brilliant. Our minds are so busy. Information, technology, internet has even made the minds even busier and stress is a component in any sickness. I’m not saying that stress is absolutely the component but it can be a component. I think it’s very important that when we practice [inaudible 00:37:25], it helps to restore homeostasis. It helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, so that the body can help itself. So I’ll send it on to you as well.

Clint: That’s fantastic. Well, we’ve covered some really great stuff. We talked about nitrogen oxide via nose, creating more oxygen into our cells. We talked about a couple of techniques that are very powerful for clearing up our nose so that we can have better nasal breathing. And if we can do it for a minute, we should be able to do it for a lifetime and it’s a habitual thing. We went over the importance of getting our children to make sure they breath through the nose because we can get some slight changes to facial structure and everything if we breath through the mouth.

You’re a supporter of yoga as long as we are silent with our breathing and nice and controlled breaths. We can practice some breath holding carefully and we’ll get some directions from you from your website in a moment on where we can get the guidelines for that. I’m very pleased to hear that, for the most part, there’s a lot of overlaps with the Wim Hof method because a lot of our listeners have enjoyed doing his techniques.

I was really interested in about the exercise part of things as well where there’s an acidosis thing at play. It’s complicated but there’s going to be some benefits with regards to the heat in the joints, sorry, the heat in the body’s parts that are being moved that’s going to add to oxygenation. So, all of these has been very, very good. Is there anything that we’ve missed that you feel is some parting words that we should definitely include before we wrap this up?

Patrick: I think it’s good for people to observe their breath and observe how do they breathe. The rule of thumb that I use is, if you were to look down at your chest and tell me, it should be quite difficult to pick up on your breathing. Whereas, if, for instance, you can see your breathing easy or there’s no natural pauses or the amplitude is quite large. We also have a measurement called the “control pause”… We have a measurement called the “control pause” that gives people some feedback.

There’s a lot of free videos we have up in YouTube that people can start watching it, for sleep, some of the exercise are up there. There’s a lot of stuff up there that… out there that people can be helping themselves. And I would say absolutely, I think the breath is very important in many ways, for the mind and for the body.

Clint: Fantastic. Well, Patrick, how do people find out more from you? Is the best thing to go to your website or is there a better place to go?

Patrick: We have a lot of information on our website. is the website. And, for sports, in terms of delaying acidosis in athletes, etc. or exercise endurance enhancement, website is

Clint: Do you do Skype consultations? Because I would encourage anyone listening to this recording, if you have trouble breathing through your nose, then everything is harder when you not got that fundamental in place. So, is that something that you do?

Patrick: Yes. My travel commitments can be quite high, so I don’t always do them. I can do them every now and again, but we do them from our office all the time. So, sometimes I’m here but sometimes I’m not. For months, I can be traveling. I visited Australia, for example. I was just there in November. So, I’m there again this coming November as well. So yeah, so from country to country. In between that, sometimes I try and fit Skypes in if I can.

Clint: Fantastic. All right. Well, people can do that from your website. I’ll put both the links of those two different websites on the show notes of this episode. Go check out Patrick’s YouTube channel. What’s that called?

Patrick: ButeykoClinic

Clint: Okay. Fantastic. Well, thank you very much, Patrick. This has been very educational and very hands on as well. This is the first time I’ve had to be involved with these exercises on an episode, so that’s been a lot of fun. I’m very grateful and thank you for all the work that you’re doing.

Patrick: No problem. Thank you very much, Clint. It was great.

Clint Paddison

Clint Paddison has recovered from crippling Rheumatoid Arthitis and now assists others with this disease via the Paddison Program for Rheumatoid Arthritis, the Paddison Podcast and the blogs on

  • Debbie Dolnics Burton

    Thank you for the podcast. Great explanation on the physiology of the breath and the exercise was simple to prove that it just takes a few seconds to be mindful and slow down breathing for optimal health benefits.