Breathing Mastery: The Oxygen's Secret

Breathing Mastery: The Oxygen's Secret

Posted by Jess Meyer on

In the silent dance of life, where every breath holds a universe of possibilities, refining your breathing technique can be transformative. The path to optimized oxygen uptake, both at rest and in the throes of intense exercise, is charted by the teachings of Stuart Dicke, a certified Oxygen Advantage coach.

Fundamentals of Breath:

  • Tidal Volume (TV): The delicate volume of air gracing the lungs with each tranquil inhale at rest.
  • Respiratory Rate (RR): The rhythmic count of breaths taken each minute.
  • Minute Ventilation (MV): The total volume of air entering the lungs in the span of a minute.

The equation is simple yet profound: RR x TV = MV.

Amidst every breath you savor, a distinct 150ml lingers in the nasal passages, cascading through the throat and other breathing channels. This air, though precious, remains in the "dead space," as it does not engage in the intimate dance of gas exchange with the blood.

The true magic unfolds in the alveoli, the lungs' tiny air sacs. It's here that oxygen is gently passed from the alveoli to the blood, and carbon dioxide traces its path from the blood to the alveoli, ready to be released into the world.

Enhancing breathing efficiency beckons a reduction in the volume of air residing in this dead space. By directing more air towards the alveoli, we amplify the quality of gas exchange.

Consider this:

Example 1:

With the whisper of 12 breaths and a volume of 500ml, 6 liters flow through the nose (RR * TV = MV). However, the alveoli receive a lesser 4.2 liters, accounting for the "dead space."

Example 2:

A slower, deeper approach with 6 breaths each carrying 1000ml also sends 6 liters through the nose. Yet, the alveoli are graced with a richer 5.1 liters, enhancing the efficiency by a significant 20%.

Slower breaths, filled with intention, lead to fewer breaths each minute. This refined approach ensures that a larger volume of air touches the alveoli, intensifying the gas exchange and minimizing the air that remains stagnant in the dead space. The beauty of this technique, as affirmed by Bilo et al. (2012), lies in its simplicity; reducing the respiratory rate means each breath is fuller, reaching deeper into the lungs.

Moreover, the energy exerted by the body for 6 deliberate, slow breaths is far less than the effort for 12 quick, shallow ones. The underlying intricacies of this will be explored in an upcoming piece.

Studies, such as the one by Bernardi, Spadacini, Bellwan, Hajiric & Raskamm (1998), suggest that exercises tailored to decelerate breathing rates can markedly elevate performance, especially during demanding physical endeavors.


Breathe deeper, run farther, and embrace the boundless horizons awaiting your every step.

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