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What’s the right way to breathe?

Reading is one of those things that takes you on an uncharted journey. You start somewhere and end up in a new, strange land full of wonders.

Such was my experience the last few days when I discovered the featured book Breath by James Nestor.

I suppose there is little we take more for granted than the process of breathing. Yet it is also one of the most misunderstood marvels of life.

James Nestor in the book seeks to unravel the mysteries of breathing for us, and the result is a text chocked full of counterintuitive insights and scientific findings about the practice each of us follows day by day without giving it a second thought.

First is the notion of mouth breathing.

That’s a big no-no. We have a nose, and we should put it to use for its designed purpose, not for sticking it in other people’s business.

Nestor makes it clear that step one to proper breathing is breathing through your nose, not your mouth.

In other words, shut your mouth.

He points out that people who live the longest take the fewest breaths. How many breaths are optimum?

They [researchers] discovered that the optimum amount of air we should take in at rest per minute is 5.5 liters. The optimum breathing rate is about 5.5 breaths per minute. That’s 5.5-second inhales and 5.5-second exhales. This is perfect breath.
Asthmatics, emphysemics, Olympians, and almost anyone, anywhere, can benefit from breathing this way for even a few minutes a day, much longer if possible: to inhale and exhale in a way that feeds our bodies just the right amount of air, at just the right time, to perform at peak capacity.
To just keep breathing less.


And just to put the techniques contained in the book to the test, I performed an experiment on myself. For approximately twenty minutes I sat and breathed, inhaling and exhaling through my nose. I actually concentrated on making the exhales slightly longer than the inhales because this is another aspect of breathing Nestor covers. He describes it as a way to boost the oxygen saturation in your blood.

After that one session, I tested my oxygen saturation with one of those oximeters you clamp on your finger.

Guess what number displayed.


That’s right. 100% oxygen saturation after one twenty-minute session.

And I’m an old fat guy.

Do yourself a favor. Get Nestor’s book, shut your mouth, and begin breathing at your highest level.

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