Not long after I graduated (BSc, PGD Phty) and began working as a physiotherapist, I started to question some of the routine practices, expectations and outcomes seen when working with people with respiratory disorders. Some just did not seem to make sense to me. In the 80s, when two of my children developed chronic asthma, I set out to find answers to why they (and an increasing percentage of children and adults) had asthma; answers that fitted with what I had observed, and which would assist my children to go on to live a life free from chronic asthma. This search took seven years. Eventually I found answers, not just for asthma, but to relieve other conditions which had faulty breathing habits at their core.
I am greatly indebted to the pioneering work of Ukrainian-born medical doctor and research scientist, Professor Konstantin Buteyko. His theoretical understanding and biochemical analysis of the physiological processes occurring in asthma and other breathing-related disorders were the explanations I was looking for, and the method of breathing retraining he developed to restore physiological normal breathing and function (the Buteyko Method) was profoundly successful. For my children, it meant immediate relief from asthma, and soon they were robust, healthy, and symptom-free. They no longer required medication. I saw the broad potential of breathing retraining to help not only people with asthma but also those with anxiety, sleep disorders, nasal problems, mouth breathing, and any form of breathlessness, and those seeking general wellbeing and improved capacity for exercise. I became accredited in breathing retraining including doing advanced training in the Buteyko Method with Professor Buteyko, and established Australia’s first dedicated breathing clinic in 1993 in Canberra, Australia.
My career was also greatly influenced by Canadian-born dentist, Dr Weston A Price. From his studies of isolated, traditionally healthy populations, he formulated the dietary principles necessary to support good breathing, optimal facial and airway development, and physical and mental health.
Over the next 25 years I further developed the art of breathing retraining and delivered breathing training courses to more than 7000 people. This included developing a Sports Performance Enhancement program and working with many elite athletes. In a clinical trial in 1994, the chronic asthmatics I worked with achieved and maintained a 96% average reduction in asthma relief medication.
From 2012, I expanded my focus from clinical practice to the creation of resources to make knowledge and skills around breathing training more widely available throughout the world. I established BreatheAbility International and the BreatheAbility® for Health resources. These resources include:
- an online breathing course – BreatheAway
- two published books with step-by-step breathing retraining programs
- training courses and mentoring programs for health and wellness professionals.
The courses and mentoring programs are for those health professionals working with clients who would benefit from better breathing. They include physiotherapists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, mental health professionals, nurses, midwives, dental health professionals, OMT therapists and Pilates and Yoga teachers.
I have been an invited speaker at medical, dental and health association conferences in Australia, US, UK, and Taiwan. I have given countless lectures, workshops, and media interviews throughout Australia. I am the author of two books, numerous articles, and featured in the 1998 ground-breaking BBC documentary – Breathless.
Breathing retraining is based in science, but none of it is rocket science! It is a simple, logical, common sense education and practice, getting us back to how nature intended us to breathe before we got trapped in bad habits, misinformation, and mis-instruction. Breathing is the first thing we do in life, and the last. Many people get it wrong around 20,000 times a day.
It is my sincerest wish that many more people will know what good breathing really is, (it is NOT “deep breathing”!) and how to achieve it, and go on to enjoy a fuller richer healthier life.