How to Breathe
Probably the greatest curse of the present mode of living is the alarming waste of lung power, a condition that is sadly impairing the health of the majority of people, particularly those in crowded cities.
Whether this condition is the result of forced restraint, caused by the reluctance on the part of people to breathe foul air, or carelessness, neglectfulness, and lack of understanding of the tremendous importance of this body function, we do not know. The fact remains that the lungpower of the great majority of people is sub-normal, that the actual act of breathing is far below standard and full rhythmic breathing is a forgotten art.
Correct breathing is a coordinated, rhythmic, muscular action bringing into play and affecting all of the vital organs. It is a purely involuntary, natural action, which, in normal health, operates to great bodily benefit but in subnormal physical conditions, merely operates. The utter dependence of normal or good health upon correct breathing is so easy to understand that even a child has no trouble comprehending it. Consider, for a moment, that the average inner surface of the lungs, if spread out, would cover an area of from 700 to 1,000 square feet. Every square inch of this vast surface is designed to act as a purifying agent for the blood.
Your circulatory system can be considered as two separate bloodstreams, one coming from the heart, which traverses the arteries, and one going to the heart through the system of veins. The outgoing system pumps clean, fresh red blood to all parts of the body, feeding, nourishing, strengthening, and rebuilding the entire body. The return flow of the blood through the veins extracts infinitesimal fractions of waste tissues, microorganisms, gases, etc., acting as a sewage system for useless body poisons.
Your heart pumps this impure blood to your lungs where, by coming in contact with the sir you have breathed, it becomes purified and is again returned rich and red to your heart to be pumped again around your body. It is estimated that a person’s blood circulation if measured in its course through the lungs, ranges from 17,000 to 35,000 pints every twenty-four hours.
Without going into the exact technical description of the system of purification of the blood in the lungs through oxygenation, combustion, etc., etc., let us consider it just in terms of capacities.
We’ll say that in your case it takes 1,000 square feet of lung area to take off and purify 35,000 pints of blood every twenty-four hours. Now let us suppose that, due to incorrect breathing, with each breath, you are filling only one-third of your lung capacity-simple arithmetic should convince you that you are actually getting only one-third of the purifying effect that your blood needs. What happens? Either only one-third of your bloodstream is undergoing the purifying process, or your entire bloodstream is only one-third purified and remains two-thirds impure, or below standard.
Follow this reasoning and realize that no bloodstream which is constantly two-thirds below par can do a full-time, efficient job of nourishing, cleansing, and rebuilding your body. Remember, every part of your body, every nerve, and every organ in your body depends entirely upon your bloodstream to keep it healthy and functioning in a normal manner. Poor breathing means uncompleted blood purification and a consequent loss in health. The answer is that you should learn all over again to breathe naturally, as you did in your infant life. If you get into the habit of taking in twice as much air at each breath as you are now doing-if you fill your lungs to say 60 percent instead of 30 percent-you will double the purifying effect and extract twice as much of the impurities within your blood as you now are doing. There is an easy, simple method to regain normal breathing control. Remember, breathing is an involuntary muscular action. You breathe without having to think about breathing. Thus, the power, which is necessary to make you breathe, is entirely dependent and measured by the energy of the involuntary muscular action.
Modern life, especially in the cities, invariably brings about the curtailment of physical action. People, particularly those in sedentary occupations, drift into a condition of physical lassitude-the vigor of youth becomes the sluggishness of age-muscles become soft, and lose their punch, power, and driving force. They lay down on the job until the whole physical system operates about like a decrepit used car. The result is that the lungs fail to get the full cooperation and aid of those muscles necessary for the breathing mechanism. There is a gradual lessening of the lung in taken and a gradual decrease in the response of the lungs to decreased muscular action. Very, very few of the people you know are doing a healthy job of breathing. Most of them fill just the top of their lungs and let it go at that. Watch them going upstairs or running for a bus or train. Hear them gasp for breath and complain about being short-winded. Who have they to condemn but themselves?
How much better it is to regain control of health by putting the entire breathing machinery back on a natural basis. This is so easy to do and everyone, regardless of age, health, or physical condition, cats do it by following just a few simple directions. Do not believe in violent and strenuous exercises. Leave those to the professional strong-armed men. I have never indulged in such exercises, yet I believe I am as strong as any man of my age anywhere and I am nearing seventy. I am concerned only with health and my system of correct breathing brings good health; with good health comes strength, vitality, and vigor; with these come that “fit as a fiddle” feeling, exuberance, and happiness. I frequently hear people say: “Breathing is all right, but I know what’s wrong with me-it’s my stomach. Breathing can’t cure my stomach. There’s no connection.”
Statements like this prove the colossal ignorance of people. Before you finish reading this article you will have definite proof that not only the stomach but also every vital organ is absolutely dependent upon the proper functioning of the lungs or breathing.
Full, deep, easy, regular breathing benefits the whole body and produces immediate improvement to any defective part of the body I shall go further and say it is the greatest single curative force at your command, though of course the importance of proper food cannot be too strongly emphasized. Your condition of health equals your measure of breathing. Your lack of normal health is equal to or measured by your deficiency in breathing Regardless of your present state of health, regardless of the cause of poor health-you will show immediate improvement, immediately you learn to breathe correctly.
This is not magic in the commonly accepted sense, but it is the magic of Mother Nature in the true sense. No one has completely unraveled all of the mysteries of the human body, but I have unraveled the full meaning of correct breathing and it has given me almost fifty years of life, which would have been denied me, had I followed the pill and powder advice of the long-buried medical men whom I consulted when I was a young man. I had tuberculosis and they said I had a year or so longer to live at the most. The breath of life has meant just that to me.
My own experience, my own living example in the flesh, has been so undeniably proven that it need cause no wonder that I was appointed instructor in correct breathing to such organizations as the New York Police Department, New York City Fire Department, the New York Board of Education, the New York Athletic Club, the Boy Scouts of America, the New York Metropolitan Opera Company, and many, many others. Many outstanding industrial, business, and professional leaders have come to realize the importance of breathing correctly-including prominent medical authorities. I have conducted clinics for their personal observation, producing amazing hospital physicians for my demonstrations have selected results in improved health among such patients as. These results have removed every vestige of doubt from the minds of the most skeptical critics.
It is not my purpose to claim any great superiority over anyone else. I hold no brief for or against the practice of any form of medical aid. I merely found myself desperately up against it, on the spot, with a death sentence in my hand, and in my trouble, I turned to the real Mother of us all-Nature. She gave me the inspiration, the understanding, the encouragement to find the secret of good health, and now I want to pass it along to you, you and you. If you follow these simple directions you will find them of untold benefit to you and in practically no time at all, you will begin to feel better and experience a new exhilaration, and a zest to keep on the road to better and better health.
First stand erect, feet at right angles, heels together, holding abdomen in, chin up. Now gently raise your arms and stretch them out at the sides and level with your shoulders. Continue to stretch your fingertips further and further until you feel you cannot reach out another fraction of an inch. While doing this keep repeating the word “stretch”. Hold this outstretched position for a moment or two, saying the reminder word “H-o-l-d”. Now, keeping the arms outstretched, gradually move them back until you have brought your shoulder blades as close together as possible. At the start of this gradual backward motion say the word “Back.” Completing this backward motion, say the word “Hold,” then gently let the arms down to your sides.
This entire exercise is a gradual movement, gentle in every way. Just go through this three times. Note the many muscles it brings into play, especially in your chest. Note at the end of the three complete motions that you will experience a new sensation in your fingertips. Place the fingers of one hand at the back of your neck, and notice the warm, tingling sensation resulting from circulation stimulation. You have started to awaken lazily and forgotten muscular action, which should be on the job helping with every breath you take. Forget about breathing while doing this exercise. Just breathe as you usually do. Your breathing will take care of itself and will adjust itself as you go along. Now for your next directions. Stand erect as before, chin up, hands on waist. Draw in the abdomen gradually, repeating the word “In”-in-in-in-in, about five times in all. Do not raise your chest or force your chest muscles.
This is strictly an abdominal action. When you feel you have drawn your waistline in as far as possible, say the word “Hold.” Then gradually push out the abdomen, repeating the word “Out” about five times until you feel you cannot push any further. Repeat this three times. Remember this is purely a muscular movement and not to be confused with breathing. As before, let your breathing take care of itself and it will adjust itself. The purpose of this gradual and gentle exercise is to get your diaphragm back on the job to where it will work again assisting your lungs g y responsive muscular, action.
This apparently inconsequential exercise is of untold importance to your bodily welfare. By making a daily habit of this you will tone up the diaphragm, strengthen it and permit it to resume its responsibility as the floor of the chest and the ceiling of the abdomen. By contracting and expanding as I have directed you force the strong diaphragmatic tissue and muscles to massage your vital organs. Your lungs, heart, stomach, liver, kidneys, spleen, pancreas, gall bladder, and intestines all derive great benefit from this internal massage action. These two simple exercises will help you tremendously. They take but a minute or two. They are gentle, not violent. Anyone can do them regardless of age or physical condition, providing they can stand up. It is a good plan to do these as soon as one awakens in the morning. The effect on the intestines can be still further improved by drinking a tumbler of water, preferably warm and containing the juice of half a lemon, before starting the exercises. The diaphragmatic action of gently massaging the intestines is also helping the lemon water to squeeze its way through the intestinal tract, thus cleansing it and aiding the most important work of elimination.
The Nasal Cleanser is a method of clearing excess mucus out of your head. Sit in any straight-backed position. Take a deep breath and expel it through both nostrils in six sharp blasts arising from your diaphragm. Now, close off your left nostril with the forefinger of your left hand and blast the next breath in the same manner as above. Close your right nostril and repeat exhaling from your left nostril. Repeat the double nostril six-blast exhalation. That is enough for the first day.
On the next day, add another right nostril, left nostril, and double nostril cleansing. This would be two rounds. On each of the next five days, add a right, left, and double cleansing breath so that on the seventh day, you will be doing seven rounds. Repeat later as desired.
The Ear Cleanser is done much as the nasal cleanser. After taking in a big breath, hold your nose, keep your mouth closed, and sneeze the air up into your head. Make this sneezing effort six times. Now, cup your hands and place them over your ears. Press and release six times in rapid succession to equalize the pressure on your eardrums. As you sneeze the air up into your head, you will probably hear popping and crackling sounds. You will probably hear well after this cleansing action. The above directions are to be followed on the first day. On each following day, increase by one round for seven days. You may repeat this series of cleansing breaths whenever you feel the need.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Yogis believe that your frame of mind at the time of breathing affects the whole process of electrical and neurological function of your body. Positive mind control makes for healthy living. It has been proven scientifically that breath taken through the right nostril sets up a positive electromagnetic field in the lungs and that breath taken in through the left nostril sets up a negative field. To learn Alternate Nostril Breathing, we use a rhythmic pattern like 6 x 3 x 6 x 3, which is an easy rhythm for learning the exercise. Put your right hand over your face with the tip of your middle finger pressing lightly on your Third Eye (the spot just over your nose and between your eyebrows).
This leaves your forefinger available for closing your right nostril, and your ring finger free to close your left nostril. Exert pressure to close your nostril high up on the bony part of your nose, not at the tip. Form a “V” by spreading your thumb and little finger to either side of your face. Close your left nostril. Breathe in 6 counts with your right nostril. Close both nostrils for 3 counts. Close your right nostril. Breathe out left nostril 6 counts. Close both nostrils and hold your breath out 3 counts. Close your right nostril and breathe in with your left nostril 6 counts. Hold this breath in for 3 counts. Breathe outright 6 counts and hold your breath out 3 counts. This would be one round. In right – hold – out left – hold – in left – hold – out right – hold out. Repeat nine or ten rounds. Alternate Nostril Breathing helps you to develop an equal ability to breathe well with either nostril. It can improve a deviated septum.
The Dog Pant breath is useful training for childbirth. You are getting plenty of oxygen without pushing, and that is sometimes necessary for the last stages of labor. Take a deep breath to start this practice. Let this breathe all out with one big whoosh. Loll your tongue out over your chin as far as it will go. Take quick short breaths in and out of your upper chest. Keep this up as long as you can. It will shake your body in rhythm with your breath. As soon as you come to a stop, you will no doubt find your mouth and throat very dry. To relieve this dryness, close your eyes and imagine yourself cutting a lemon. Raise a piece of this imaginary lemon to your lips and take a lick. I like to recall how long-haired dogs, like Collies, breathe with their tongues lolling out. This gets me in the right mood for the Dog Pant Panorama.
Rib Cage Stretching
Rib Cage Stretching is a Panorama that creates an inward drive of energy by the pulling action. At the same time, your held-in-breath creates an outward drive of energy to help correct spinal-rib positions.
Take a comfortable sitting position and imagine a slender tree in front of you. Clasp your hands around this tree with your fingers entwined. Hold your arms with elbows lifted high in front of your chest. Take a Grand Yoga Breath and pull for all you are worthwhile you hold your breath in. Let your breath out with a whoosh and relax. Repeat holding your arms in front of your mid-chest and repeat with your arms at low chest level.