In James Nestor’s book, Breath, he explores multiple breathing techniques and speaks to many different pulmonauts, experts in the areas of breath awareness through their respective fields, about the best way to get the most out of our breath.
Mainly, breathe through your nose.
Nestor references a discussion with an orthodontist about her research into nasal breathing versus mouth breathing. She sees numerous kids who exhibit signs of chapped lips, chronic snoring, allergies, asthma and sinusitis. Mouth breathing from a young age creates a different shape of the mouth that leads to crooked teeth and leads to these other challenges. According to Nestor,
‘Ninety percent of children have acquired some degree of deformity in their mouths and noses. Forty-Five percent of adults snore occasionally, and a quarter of the population snores constantly. Twenty-five percent of American adults over 30 choke on themselves because of sleep apnea; and an estimated 80 percent of moderate or severe cases are undiagnosed. Meanwhile, the majority of the population suffers from some form of breathing difficulty or resistance.’
In the International Breathwork Federation Summit that took place in the summer of 2020, Lisa Kusch, Room to Breathe, offered the importance of nasal breathing and emphasized that the mask amplifies breath behavior patterns.
She suggests that our breath learns; every experience we have holds on to our breathing, so if we’re breathing unaware behind a mask, we could be reinforcing behaviors that we’ve been working to undo. This may evoke an emotion associated with said pattern, challenging our ability to remain in the present moment.
She suggests a buddy system, specifically for school children, to remind one another to bring awareness to the breath. It could be as simple as asking, ‘Hey, do you need a breathing break?’
Also during the summit, breathworker Dan Brule’ offered us the five-finger breath for a calming option for kids or adults. I began using this with my children at the start of NTI and try to bring peace into our homeschooling days, which has become a daily effort.
Simply use one finger to trace the outside of the hand, breathing in through the nose going up the finger, out through the nose going down. When you get to the end of the hand, go backward. This slow practice, gives us a chance to check in with ourselves, reduce the fight or flight response and go back to whatever we were doing with a clearer head.
Nestor’s book suggests the 5.5 second (5.5 second inhale, 5.5 second exhale) breath based on multiple spiritual practices all matching this frequency.
I’ve been told we can reset the brain with 36 intentional breaths. Isn’t that a beautiful way to love yourself?
Nestor offers Breathing + in part 3 of his book. The Holotropic Breathwork referenced is comparable to what I facilitate through virtual and private sessions. This practice is incredibly effective at breaking down walls to get to the root of an issue. It is a conscious breathing practice to unveil unconscious behavior. I would be happy to speak with you more about it if you’re interested.
Many experts referenced in ‘Breath’ suggest this to be the number one contributor to our health, over exercise, diet or sleep. The way we breathe has such an incredible impact on our organ functionality, as well as data linking the lack of carbon dioxide to some psychological disorders.