Overcoming difficulties with Breathing Retraining

Lots of people find Breathing Retraining difficult at first, but soon get on top of it. Here you can find advice from the My Breathing Matters physiotherapists, that has helped people master Breathing Retraining.

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Feeling like you want to take a deep breath, but can’t get enough air in, is very common when practising breathe retraining. Don’t worry – this feeling is to be expected, and isn’t harmful. Stop practicing if it’s too uncomfortable, and have another go later – with more practice, the feeling will gradually get better over time.

Aching tummy muscles are common, and not something to worry about.

Firstly, it’s always good to check you are doing the exercises correctly – which you can do by watching the example videos and by having another look at the practice instructions.

Often people try and ‘force’ the air out of their stomach when breathing out. Instead, you could try breathing out more naturally - keeping your stomach muscles relaxed.

If you are doing it right, then don’t worry – any aches are usually a reaction to using the stomach muscles properly, and should disappear over time. If it’s too uncomfortable, try practicing Breathing Retraining more ‘little and often’ – instead of practicing for long sessions. 

  1. Try and find the right place to practise breathe retraining – somewhere you can relax, and not be disturbed.
  2. To help you carry it out regularly, it’s good to plan when you’re going to do it. If you want, decide some good times now – and note it down. You’ll learn the techniques best if you practise throughout the day.Click back to see the list of other things people have found difficult.
  3. Build up gradually. Most people only do the slow breathing for 1-2 minutes at first. Keep trying to build up the time spent doing the breathing to about 15 minutes, once you get the hang of it.
  4. Try and ‘hook’ the exercises into your daily routine, things that you do every day. Practise at the same time as you do things like taking medication, brushing your teeth or even going to the loo!

This is a really common feeling – and usually improves if you do short periods of practice over time. You may want to try a nasal douche / sinus rinse that you can buy from your local pharmacy; If this doesn’t help, you may want to make an appointment with your GP to check you don’t have an issue that can be easily treated medically.

There a few methods that you can use to help here:

  • Try practising in front of a mirror, so you can see what your stomach is doing without looking down.
  • Try loosely folding your arms across your stomach, and aiming to make your arms rise and fall.
  • Try practising lying down in bed! Imagine that your stomach is a balloon you’re trying to inflate.

Many people feel this way, and there’s no need to worry. It’s very common to find breath-holding difficult, and it can feel a little uncomfortable. Keep practising little and often, and over time you will notice a gradual improvement.