Erroneous Methods Of Breathing
( Originally Published 1904 )
Of course, the greatest error in breathing consists in taking into the lungs and thus sending throughout the body, air that is not nearly as pure as Nature can make it. And the second error that is equally common, is the taking of "quiet" breaths—that is, inhalations that do not cause every portion of the structure of the lungs to be permeated by air.
Even those who believe that they are making an effort to get pure air into their systems are liable to error. The beginner in physical culture, if he has any faith in the teachings of that science, will begin his novitiate by getting more and more out-of-doors. But most people are compelled, through the necessities of their occupation, to spend many hours a day in-doors. How about the purity of the air that they breathe? -
It may be that the factory floor, or the office, or the work room is aired frequently. That is not enough.
They must be aired all of the time. It is not wise to spend a moment in any place where the out-door air is not circulating freely. Bear in mind that it is not alone through your breathing that the pure air in a room becomes impure. The burning of stoves, gas, kerosene lamps, candles or lanterns makes the air foul also.
Breathing in a confined room renders the air foul by converting the life-giving oxygen into the asphyxiating carbonic-acid gas. Your body is giving off vapory emanations which, even though slight, befoul the air nevertheless. You may be reading or working by the aid of a lamp, and the combustion that goes on in it is making the air more and more foul. In order to keep warm you have a radiator, heater, stove or grate going, each of which is taking oxygen out of the air.
Now, with all. these ways of befouling the air in - operation at once, what are you doing to renew the pure air that is being polluted? Are you content with the notion that the room was aired thoroughly a little while ago? If so, pause to reflect that the air does not remain pure when there are so many means present of replacing its oxygen with carbonic-acid gas. ' Are the windows open enough to let in all the needed pure air and to provide for the escape of the impure air'? If not, you are certainly and insiduously poisoning yourself.
Throw open the windows then, as much or as little as need be, but have them open. Let in the pure air every moment that you are in the room. Breathe in, drink in, every waking and sleeping moment, the uncontaminated atmosphere that God made for you — not the vile vapor that you are creating around you by your breathing, your bodily emanations, your lights and your fires.
Quiet, gentle, half-inspired breaths are the rule, but they are an abomination. Every breath taken should be so full and so far-reaching that it goes to the uttermost recesses of the lungs. The lungs are filled with impure venous blood that needs purification by oxygen. And the blood, even after it has been made pure, needs oxygen to carry back to all the tissues of the body.
Take a quiet, half breath, and you do not reach all of the impure blood that has been poured into your lungs. Such of the blood as has not been made pure returns to the heart, and in this impure - toxic — state it is pumped throughout the system again. Even the tissues of the healthiest lungs suffer by the passage of blood that enters them and leaves them in an impure state, depositing as it goes, a portion of poisonous matter. A result of this deposit is that the lung tissues become diseased as a matter of course.
Start with a normal pair of lungs, and breathe deeply of pure air all through your life, and tuberculosis, or any other pulmonary disease, becomes an impossibility.
Another very common error in breathing is standing or sitting in stooped or cramped positions. Such attitudes prevent the taking of long, deep breaths. If the shoulders are allowed to bend forward, and the chin to droop, the lungs cannot expand as they should. Experiment a little with the shoulders and chin thus placed and you will appreciate the harmfulness of the position to the full.
Many inquire if holding the breath is to be commended? Theoretically, a very strong argument can be put forward deprecating the act. If it is held for, say, four or five seconds, while two or three movements are made, no harm can possibly be produced. You are compelled to hold your breath for a few moments in almost any kind of strenuous athletic work, such as lifting, or wrestling, or in any exercises where you are occasionally required to make a supreme effort. For instance, when 'lifting a heavy weight, all the muscles are flexed, and it is difficult and unnatural to breathe at the moment. A swimmer is compelled to hold his breath while diving, and even in ordinary swimming, where the head is kept above water, he is compelled to breathe only at certain intervals. Pearl divers are said to be as fine specimens of physical manhood as can be seen anywhere, and they can easily hold their breath from four to five minutes.
One of the healthiest and best preserved fiftyyear-old men I ever saw, claimed that he cured himself of consumption when past the age of twenty by counting when walking in the open air, how many steps he could take while holding his breath. He stated that he finally developed such remarkable powers in this way that he could easily walk an ordinary city block without breathing. Although he was fifty years of age, he did not look to be over thirty-five. He was engaged in the banking business and in this capacity had to discharge exacting duties.
I do not advocate the habit of holding the breath to the extent described in this case, but I believe that while making special movements that bring into play the chest muscles, a deep, full breath retained for a few moments will tend to force the air into every cell of the lungs, and thereby expand the chest and be of general benefit.
Showing the natural position of the body in the region of the chest and abdomen after breath is exhaled.
Showing the positron of the body after normal inhalation. Compare pictures carefully and you will notice that the principal expansion takes place at and above the waist line. These photos indicate the normal movement of external walls of abdomen and chest in proper breathing. Study this carefully and learn how to breathe properly.