Look at Your Breathing, Look at Your Choices
Oxygen is essential to each cell’s functioning, and therefore essential for your physical and mental health. The primary benefit of cardio exercise is to improve the ability of the heart to pump blood and oxygen through the body- but it can only pump the oxygen that is there. Some athletes go to extremes like blood doping to artificially improve their blood's ability to bring more oxygen to muscles, but imagine that you can create a similar effect simply by improving your breathing.
Optimized breathing isn’t only for athletes- your brain uses 20% of the oxygen you consume. According to Dr. Vranich, and many others, learning to breathe better will improve a multitude of issues: energy levels and fatigue, cognitive problems, mental health, emotional well-being, sleep, muscle recovery, pain management, digestive issues, back problems, hypertension, and more.
How can you get started on improving your breathing? Watch this 10 minute TedTalk to get most of the information from the book:
Your breathing muscles need their own workout, and incorporating a breathing workout can function as a daily meditation. Aim for 10- 15 minutes for twice a day- you can do them during your commute!
My current Breath Workout:
Rock and Roll x 20 (see video above)
Diaphragm Extensions x 20- laying on the floor with a weight (or stack of books) on your belly, take deep belly breaths moving the weight up and down.
Spinal twists- 1 minute each side
Exhale pulsations (til exhaustion x 2) - like the yoga breath of fire; short, sharp exhales accompanied by contracting your abs in a pumping action, like blowing out a row of candles.
Final thoughts on Breathe: the 14-Day Program to Improve your Mental and Physical Health:
Content: 5/5- Everyone could benefit from the information in Breathe, and the plethora of exercises, with modifications and progressions, make it worth getting. There are also useful surveys and techniques for determining your baselines so you can see how and if you improve over time. Overall, I am very glad I read the book, and I have discovered I am a lazy exhaler!
Organization: 2/5- Too many distractions- text boxes on the side, uninspiring testimonials, and footnotes containing repetitive information from the actual text made for a really disjointed reading experience. Lots of repetitious platitudes. Interesting studies and scientific information could have been expanded on, but instead the reader is referred to other studies and resources.
Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? If you haven’t, do you have any resources you love that focus on breathing? Let me know in the comments!