As We Live and Breathe
I thought I knew a fair amount about breathing from numerous decades of doing Yoga, but there were surprises in James Nestor’s book Breath. In this extensively-researched book, the author explores both ancient teachings and leading-edge science to help us understand the importance of proper breathing techniques for vibrant health and wellbeing. It will change your perceptions – and perhaps your habits – around this thing that you do about 20,000 times a day, mostly unconsciously.
One of the biggest things I learned? How harmful it is to breathe through the mouth. So much so that some Indigenous cultures taught their children, from birth, to breathe only through their nose.
The author participated in a 10-day experiment where his nostrils were intentionally blocked. Various measurements of health were taken daily, showing a variety of detrimental effects on his system from 24/7 mouth breathing.
As with many other complex subjects regarding the human body, proper breathing has a multitude of effects on the whole system. Nestor quotes well-known physician Andrew Weil, who said that if he was going to give only one tip for healthier living, it would be just learning how to breathe better. This book will help you do so.
The video below mentions one situation where mouth breathing is understandable.
And the photo below shows a pose that you may have done in a Yoga class, pre-Covid. Can you guess what it is? Answer in the comments section below.
(Hint: It’s a pose named after one of the African Big 5)
To Your Good Health,
Thich Nhat Hanh
Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out I smile. Dwelling in this present moment, I know this is the only moment.