Physiotherapist brings breathing skills seminars to Christchurch

BREATHE EASY: Tess Graham in her home office.

BREATHE EASY: Tess Graham in her home office.

An Australian physiotherapist is bringing her breathing expertise to Christchurch to help alleviate post-earthquake stress and anxiety.

Tess Graham is one of fewer than 30 qualified breathing professionals in the Western world.

She has spent the last 22 years researching, writing about and perfecting breathing techniques to help people who have problems with sleeping patterns, anxiety and relationship breakups.

"It's very damaging to relationships but it also makes people so tired," she said.

Through talking with her sister, who lives in Christchurch, Graham became aware of the emotional effects of the earthquakes including stress, sleeping problems and anxiety.

Graham said her research had found around one in six women and one in 10 men would experience an anxiety disorder at some time.

Graham brings her free basic breathing skills seminar for adults to Christchurch on March 5.

"On average, and we'll find this with Christchurch, [faulty breathers will] be breathing 17 times [a minute]," she said.

"Eight to 12 is normal. So they're breathing approximately double the rate."

Other "faulty" patterns included breathing through the mouth at night, and noisy and chesty breathing.

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"It's about becoming aware of what good breathing looks like."

Two of Graham's three children developed asthma at age three and their experiences inspired her career path.

"I was getting close to seven years of asthma with them and they were getting worse and taking more and more medication every year."

Graham read everything she could get her hands on that mentioned asthma, from articles in glossy women's magazines to medical journals. Her reading connected her with researchers around the world and eventually she discovered the link between breathing patterns and asthma.

"What I do is 100 per cent based on science," she said. "There is no leap of faith. It is not alternative. It's just a different way of seeing the problem of asthma."

Although Graham has not worked in Christchurch before, she said she knew what to expect.

Elite athletes, including Australian Olympians, have also used her techniques.

 - The Press


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