The Power of Your Breath, The secret key to reshaping your looks, body, health and weight
Written by Anders Olsson
Super-Cure or Just Hot Air?
Review by Gunnel Minett
A secret key to reshaping our looks, body, health and weight sounds a bit too good to be true. In particular since it is all just about changing the way we breathe. But the book gives very compelling evidence as to how and why changing our breathing pattern can have such profound effect on us. And, as the author points out, breathing is one of the most important functions for all animals, human beings included. We can be without food and water far longer than we can be without oxygen. So why shouldn’t it be that the way we breathe is enormously important?
One interesting aspect of our breathing is that it can be both an automatic process and a voluntary activity: we don’t need to remind ourselves to keep breathing, our brain/body ensures this happens automatically. On the other hand, we can also take control over our breathing pattern. A downside of this flexibility is that we tend to use breathing as a way of controlling our stress level and the interaction between inner and outer worlds. The result of this is often incorrect breathing that leaves our body operating on a less than optimal level.
According to research presented in the book, most of us have several problems with our breathing. Many over-breathe i.e. take in too much oxygen which changes the balance of carbon dioxide in the blood, which in turn is the trigger for our breathing reflex. Here the positive side of our ability to breath flexibly comes in. By consciously retraining ourselves to breathe in an optimal way we can change the body’s intake of air and reset it in the best possible way so as to maximise the body’s ‘working environment’.
The book is filled with examples of; incorrect breathing patterns, why we have them and how to change them and the effects this will have. Although the title of the book mainly refers to the physical aspect of breathing, it also deals with the effects of incorrect breathing on the psyche.
Although we still have a long way to go to pay the same attention to breath- retraining in the western world, the situation is different in other parts of the world. Eastern knowledge and use of breath (re)training has very ancient roots.
The fact that ancient Greek traditions also paid attention to breathing can be seen in words such as schizophrenia that is derived from the root phren meaning both diaphragm and mind.
So, even if it does seem too good to be true, understanding how to breathe correctly does hold the key to eliminating stress, boosting the immune system and living a healthier and happier life. Plus, it’s cheap and without side effects! (You can’t be asked more than that of any cure.) This book establishes this conclusion without any doubt.
For the breathwork community this book should be of particular interest since it presents theories as to how to breathe that to some extent contradict common beliefs, particularly in Rebirthing and Holotropic Breathwork. Although previous attempts to bring together breathworkers of all schools of thought have not been very successful, perhaps now is the time to attempt this type of interchange again.
The fact that techniques, which focus on over-breathing or hyperventilation, can have results very similar to those which focus on the opposite, i.e. to slow breathing down and/or to breathe less, should trigger the curiosity of all breathworkers. And of course, curiosity is key to expanding knowledge – we should all have in common regardless of our starting point. Another thing we can agree about, regardless of school or technique, is that breathwork is a new and mainly unexplored area that we all need to learn more about.
ISBN 9 789197 615150 http://www.consciousbreathing.com