“Then the Lord God
formed man from the
dust of the ground and
breathed the breath of
life into his nostrils, and
the man became a living being . . .”
“. . . and then man forgot.”
Change your breath,
change your life
Have you ever asked yourself why you breathe? You may think this question has a pretty obvious answer—we need to breathe to survive! But is there more to breathing than simply to bring oxygen into your body?
You breathe somewhere between 17,000 and 29,000 times per day, or 6 to 10 million breaths per year. If you did anything else that often, you’d probably have a pretty good idea how and why you did it. So it always surprises me how little understanding there is about this essential act of living that we do every moment of every day.
In fact, most of us are so unaware of our breathing that we don’t notice how, either over time or even in a single moment, we can develop dysfunctional breathing habits that are slowly destroying our health and happiness, manifesting in physical and mental symptoms from fatigue, headaches, digestive issues, and sleep disorders to chronic stress and anxiety.
It is estimated that roughly 60 percent of all emergency ambulance calls in larger American cities involve breath-related disorders.1 To quote Donna Farhi, a world-renowned yoga instructor, “A casual glance of any city street will reveal the extent to which tight belts, tight bodies, and tight schedules are literally taking our breath away.”
But there is good news. Watch how a toddler breathes, and notice the open and flowing nature of their breath. With some understanding and practice, you can easily retrain your own breathing mechanics back to their original and optimal state. It’s just like learning any new skill. And this book is here to help you do just that.
And it doesn’t stop there. Think of the breath as your body’s very own built-in Swiss Army knife. Here, you have a tool that can help you in so many situations, and improve your physical and mental health and performance and emotional well-being. You might be a sleep-deprived parent, a stressed business executive, an elite athlete, or anyone in between. By simply learning how to use your breath as a tool, the way nature intended you to, you will experience dramatic changes in your life. Think about it—if this promise is as simple as taking a few breaths in a certain way, what are you waiting for? (Pg.2)
I believe this knowledge, stemming from both ancient wisdom and scientific innovation, should be known by everyone. We all breathe, after all. (Pg.2)
You begin life with your first breath. You leave life with your last. How you breathe in between can profoundly impact your experience. This book will explain why, and show you how to breathe with purpose. (Pg.5)
BREATHING TO WAKE UP THE BODY
Start your day with some big breath surfing
When we’re asleep, many of our vital functions drop, including our respiratory rate, heart rate, and blood pressure. So leaping out of bed as soon as we wake up may not be the best idea. As your body tries to adapt to this sudden action, this can lead to undue stress.
Instead, you can use your breath to gently wake up your body and stimulate your respiratory, nervous, cardiovascular, lymphatic, and digestive systems into higher action. The reason I call this exercise “big breath surfing” is that in it, we use our breath to create a wave of movement through our body. Starting in our belly, coming up through the midribs, and finishing up in the chest—we are literally surfing the waves of our breath. It certainly beats lying in bed scrolling through social media feeds on your phone for 10 minutes!
BIG BREATH SURFING
While lying in bed, put one hand over your belly button and one hand on your chest, with the fingertip of your index finger touching the bottom of your sternum (so your hand is on the side of your ribs).
Breathe through your nose into your belly, making your belly hand rise by an inch or two, barely moving the hand on your sternum (BV 7).
Exhale out through the mouth with a relaxed sigh (BV 5).
Repeat this pattern 3 times.
Next, breathe through your nose, first making your belly hand rise. One second after the belly hand has started to rise, allow your breath to start coming up into your midribs, feeling them expand sideways (BV 8).
Exhale out through your mouth with a relaxed sigh (BV 5).
Repeat this pattern 3 times.
Next, repeat the belly and midribs breath, but, this time, soon after the midribs have started to expand, allow your breath to come all the way up to your collar bones (BV 9).
Exhale through the mouth with a relaxed sigh (BV 5). Repeat this pattern 3 times. (Pg.105)