Breathing Retraining

Better breathing brings better health

Many know this, but people get so confused about breathing, with all the different styles, methods and breathing gurus out there. If you want your body to function properly, there is only one way to breathe. And that is, to breathe correctly – with physiologically normal breathing. That is the aim of breathing retraining.

Breathing large ‘deep’ breaths and pushing your abdomen outwards to completely fill your lungs is NOT physiological normal breathing. Fully exhaling to empty your lungs is NOT normal and is NOT healthy.

Physiological normal breathing is silent, through the nose, very gentle, and almost invisible.

If you can learn to breathe like that, to have that as your ‘baseline’ breathing pattern, then it is very unlikely that you will snore, have a chronic cough, a constantly clogged nose, or struggle to breathe.

Over 90% of people who do our breathing program report within 1-5 days:

  • better sleep, less anxiety and a greater sense of calm
  • less nasal congestion (within minutes)
  • less or no snoring
  • significant  reduction in asthma symptoms and need for asthma reliever medication.


Overbreathing is the most common breathing pattern abnormality.

If we over-eat and eat the wrong foods we get over-weight and sick.
If we over-breathe and breathe with the upper chest in the day, we irritate our nasal passages, disturb our blood gases and cause malfunction everywhere in the body. Over 80% of people over-breathe, at times, or all the time.

Wondered why you get dizzy blowing up balloons?

Loss of carbon dioxide during over-breathing causes smooth muscle to constrict around airways and blood vessels, reducing the availability of oxygen to the brain and body tissues. Anyone who has experienced dizziness after blowing up balloons or practising deep breathing in a fitness class, will be familiar with the effect that over-breathing can have on the blood supply to the brain. The MRI scan below shows a 40% reduction in oxygen in the brain after one minute of over-breathing. (Litchfield 1999)

Red, yellow and pale blue areas (right-hand side of the scale ) correspond to higher oxygen saturation.

At night over-breathing makes an annoying noise and may even suck the walls of the throat shut and stop breathing for a while (sleep apnoea, sleep apnea). Breathing like this all night is exhausting; its also dehydrating and irritating to the nose and throat; it deprives the brain (and everywhere else ) of oxygen.

What conditions can breathing retraining help with?

hayfever, sinusitis, rhinitis
blocked nose, chronic mouth-breathing
emphysema / chronic bronchitis / COPD
reduced exercise capacity
stress disorders
snoring, sleep apnoea
elite sports performance

Principles of breathing retraining

Breathing training/retraining is a simple process of identifying incorrect breathing habits and then replacing them with the correct ones. It really is that simple. The benefits are immediate, and most people comment that they have had their best sleep in decades within just a few days of starting this process.

While breathing is automatic, you can also consciously vary it.

Breathing retraining takes a degree of awareness and self control in the beginning. But you blend the techniques and training into your everyday activities.

Daytime vs night-time breathing

You can practise breathing at the correct rate, rhythm and volume during the day which resets the ‘drive to breathe’ centre in your brain, to deliver quieter, softer, more regular breathing at night. Often on the first night!
During the day you enjoy a boost to your energy levels and you lower your risk of serious health issues. Correcting your breathing may help you avoid the need for surgical, pharmaceutical and appliance-based interventions for nasal problems, snoring and sleep apnoea.

The simplest things in life are often the best: changing the way you breathe yourself, has to beat having a machine do it for you.

Get help for your breathing

Consultations and BreatheAbility Better Breathing Courses in person – CANBERRA and SURROUNDS


PLEASE NOTE: Tess Graham is currently unavailable for consultations and courses.  You can contact Tracey Anderson Askew, at Better Breathing Centres  in Canberra, who does consultations, small-group courses, and sessions via Skype. Tel: +61 2 6296 2627;

The Breathe Away online course in Breathing Retraining was established in response to the enormous need from people all around the world to improve their breathing, and subsequently their health. The online course is based on the ground-breaking breathing retraining programs that Tess Graham has delivered for the last two decades to more than 5500 people with extraordinary and consistent success. We aim to teach people to breathe better with less need for surgery, medication, machines or appliances. Breathe Away Online Breathing Retraining Course  

BOOK and CD / MP3
The book, Relief from Snoring and Sleep Apnoea was created to help people who may not have access to a breathing educator or who prefer to follow a self-help program. It has a simple, easy to follow explanation, a self-assessment process and a step-by-step guide to changing the way you breathe. While it is specifically written for people with sleep-breathing issues, much of the information and many of the strategies in the book are very relevant and helpful to people with asthma, breathlessness and anxiety conditions. Its companion product- Breathing Exercise Instruction Audio makes learning even easier. It is available in CD and MP3 formats.


Is your breathing incorrect? Take the Faulty Breathing Quiz

Learn about the Buteyko Method of Breathing Retraining

BreatheAbility international runs breathing educator teacher training courses for health professionals.

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