Proper breathing. Although you’re supposed to do it automatically, you don’t always. Or at least you don’t always do it properly. Most people are not even aware of their poor breathing habits. And poor breathing can take its toll.
Breathing wears many hats
Proper breathing is one of those things most people take for granted. Of course you need to breathe in order stay alive. But as if keeping you alive weren’t enough, breathing has additional critical job responsibilities.
According to Dr. Mladen Golubic, a physician at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine, breathing can have a major impact on many physical ailments and illnesses such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and heart failure. Of course, deep breathing is also helpful as a relaxation technique and a method to treat anxiety.
The Breathing Book
A great resource for easy to learn proper breathing techniques to help treat a number of ailments is The Breathing Book by Donna Farhi.
In the book, Farhi offers a simple and practical approach to getting a grasp on the “cornerstone to our well-being”…proper breathing. She points out that in looking for ways to cope with the many stresses and pressure in our lives, we often “get caught up in details, in theories, and in complicated strategies” and end up ignoring fundamental processes, such as our breath.
“The process of breathing lies at the very center of every action and reaction we make or have”, says Farhi. “By refining and improving the quality of our breathing we can feel its positive impact on all aspects of our being”.
Breathe in the air
The Breathing Book helps us understand ourselves and why we might not be breathing for maximum benefit. There are a number of ways and reasons we might be holding our breath, unbeknownst even to ourselves!
There are many ways we might be restricting ourselves from proper breathing. One way is by chest breathing. Some may think that chest breathing is fine…air is pumping into our lungs, right?
Farhi explains that by limited our breathing to the upper part of our chest, proper circulation is kept from the diaphragm. Since the diaphragm helps to keep all of the organs above it and below it circulating, we are creating road blocks for our organs to function properly.
Another common breath holding pattern is hyperventilation. Most of the time, hyperventilation isn’t even recognized unless it’s in it’s extreme form. But it can actually be both subtle and chronic.
The Breathing Book describes a number of other breath holding patterns. Some people can suffer from more than one type. But once we can recognize how and when we are restricting our own breathing, we can begin to dismantle the patterns. With attention to proper breathing, we can begin to unravel the causes of many of our ailments.
Untying the knots
Rather than a “how-to-do” book, Farhi wants us to think of it as a “how-to-undo” book. Instead of trying to control our breath, The Breathing Book teaches us how to let breathing return to occurring naturally and freely.
As infants and young children, most of us were breathing perfectly fine, and as a result we were full of energy. But as we take on more responsibilities and find ourselves with added worries, we tend to hold our breath and control it unknowingly. In turn, our bodies suffer and we end up feeling exhausted much of the time.
The Breathing Book is intended to help us remove bad habits that contribute to stress, illness and fatigue. It is also intended to help us connect with what Farhi calls “the essential breath”, the breath that gave us that boundless energy we had as children.
To help us return to that “essential breath”, the author offers a number of tools and approaches to get the most from our breathing, including easy to follow exercises.
The book also touches upon how even our attempts to look trimmer can negatively affect proper breathing. Anything that constricts our breath, even a tight belt, can poorly impact your breathing and, in turn, your health.
It also has a series of Practice Guides you can follow, not only to help undo specific poor breathing habits, but to also help treat numerous health conditions.
Proper breathing: it’s right under our noses
I found The Breathing Book to be extremely insightful in its explanation of how we end up with poor breathing habits, and how to undo them. The book helps us tap into this resource that we carry with us everywhere we go, yet that we sadly under-utilize.
If we can unravel all the triggers that cause us to hold our breath, we can get back to the natural state of breathing we were born with. It can help us do away with stimulants and sleep aids. It may even help wean us off of quick false energy fixes like sugar and junk food. It can bring us natural energy that we didn’t even know we had in us, as well as a sense of calm.
Farhi provides us with solutions in a very practical, easy to understand, and easy to relate to manner. She explains proper breathing from many angles and with much detail, without being overly technical or medical.
The only problem I had with this book was with some of the illustrations. In a few of them I had a tough time discerning the differences between inhalation and exhalation.
Perhaps they were just too subtle for me to see. In any case this is a very minor concern when I think about the wealth of information and insight Farhi provides.
Proper breathing is a powerful source of vital energy, relaxation, and sense of calm…and it’s always right under our noses. I highly recommend The Breathing Book by Donna Farhi.