Monday, April 21, 2014


Hey readers - about 6 months ago an athlete of mine in South Africa  recommended this book to me; I'm far from a big reader, I never really finished a book since I been out of school! I'm honestly too much of a smart ass to actually ever finish an entire one ;) where I simply graze over the pages with my yellow high-lighter, noting the interesting stuff & acknowledging the rest!

So I ordered this book in our regular balikbayan box & once it arrived I found it so compelling, that I decided to write a blog about it & share this great information with everybody =)

This book: Breatheology was written by Danish National Stig Avall Severinsen who's 4 X Freediving world champion as well to braking a few Static Apnea Guinness World Records & was in fact the first man to break 20 min barrier when holding your breath - whoazzers!!!

Can you believe he went up to 22 flippin' minutes !?!?!? It also helps that he holds a masters degree in biology & Phd in medicine, of which compelled him to do many self-experiments & manages to share these 'personal anecdotes' in a laymen's type of way with connotations & the odd scientific term thrown-in ;)

The book goes full circle on breathing where my top 3 personal-major-key-take-aways were: healing, relaxation & simulation.  

Most modern humans breathe incorrectly, never maximizing their full lung capacity, by defaulting into an 80/20 breathing, which is basically using only the top 20% of your lungs to breathe. The other 80% is carbon dioxide (C02) that stays in your lungs & has negative affects with acidosis of the blood stream & then branching out into other problems like higher blood pressure, stress, easier inflammation, suppression of the immune system, ect.

Baby's & animals naturally 'belly breathe' thus using a greater capacity of their lungs, something critical in human growth. Us adults are overly busy with the hustle & bustle of day-to-day life, we tend to rarely take a full breath of air even thought to take 20 to 30 THOUSAND breaths each day!

A big part of the book explains how by consciously holding your breaths & doing long/slow breathing exercises, it will make the body healthier or help with the recovery of illness, disease, injury's, ect.

Our body's are great great organisms with a built-in 'defense mechanism' when starved for oxygen, where our spleen releases extra red blood cells & naturally lifts our hematocrit levels (wink wink pro-cyclists) thus giving a feeling of euphoria when we release & start to breath again!

Also, when we fully inflate the lungs & hold our breaths, our 'system' actually works harder to absorb oxygen molecules in our lungs, thus becoming more efficient & effective in the absorption of oxygen molecules during regular breathing afterwards.

Think of it as 'training' the lungs, like we would do with our legs with run training, where it will then make walking around easier, further and/or faster, since the legs/body has gotten stronger via run training!

He also goes into details about all the various therapeutic benefits of doing breathing exercises with a stop watch or by 'carpa' breathing which is basically to pack your lungs by inflating them to full capacity, then take in 10 extra breaths with our mouths (this looks funny) & then holding the breath for an extended duration. This is a pretty strait forward & simple exercise to do @ home & it will STRETCH THE LUNGS FOR LIFE.

My 'go-to' intervals: 10 second slow inhale + hold @ the top for 5 second + 10 second slow exhale + 5 second hold @ the bottom = 30 sec interval, repeated twice in a 1 min cycle for 10 total breaths in 5 min!

What I visualize myself doing during the exercises - I do this alone in our spare bedroom with deep, powerful & LOUD breaths!

Doing this before bed has helped me sleep un-interrupted, sooner, better & deeper - I KID YOU NOT!

One story that stood out in the book, was that he helped a quadriplegic go from a lung capacity of only 300 ml to over 2 litters just by doing breathing exercises where it obviously had great improvements in his overall health day-to-day life!

As a reference, the average lung capacity of an normal human is ~7 liters where the author's capacity if over 14 liters!

There's other story's or study's done where the symptoms where reduce in the following problems: asthmapneumonia, depression, headaches, bronchitistuberculosis, muscular distrophy, sleep apnea, snoring, alkaline blood, ect. all by extra oxygenation! 

And then of course, there's an entire chapter on how better/fuller breathing can help in elite athletic performance!

I was already aware that athletes should coordinate their breath with their motion (arm swing or pedal stroke) to ensure their breathing remains consistent as the intensity creeps up!

In some sports, competitors will hold their breath during intense concentration prior to a specific/rapid/aggressive movement, since having control over our breathing is imperative to the control of your body's & mind!

He talks about it in all in holistic manner as well to giving various tips on diet, yoga, imagery & sample training programs!

Another cool piece of info, is that our nose's will absorb oxygen 10-15% better than our mouths because there's more blood vessels in the nostrils & will go to the brain directly. Also, the sinus's release out nitrogen oxide; thus explaining why some people like to sniff 'substances' up their nose...!

With all that I learned in this book, it truly changed my awareness of my own breathing, I can monitor myself & look to read others state of mind, like my athletes during training or when at the Filipino mall with 10's of thousands of local's moving sideways very loudly - ahahahaha joke lang ;) 

Breath holding might seem eccentric @ first, especially under water, but the feeling is pretty surreal when done alone in a pool, you just lay there motionless, quiet, suspended in water, just listening to your own heart beat, that you become more aware of & the longer the breath is held, the better you become at one with your thoughts & peacefully observe your body's internal responses to the noble art of conscious Apnea.

It's worth to check out Stigs website: or book if you're interested, because regardless we think this is important or not our life will fall between 2 breaths: our first & our last, so best to maximize those in between & life a full life with full breaths!

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