Breathing 101

Dr. TonyNSA

In writing this article I realize that I may be flying in the face of a number of healing traditions such as yoga but I thought I would address what’s probably one of the most common questions I get. And that is “is there a right way to breathe?”

The short answer is “no”. Let me qualify my answer. Some of you may be thinking already “but my yoga teacher said that belly breathing is the way” or “I watched this YouTube video and they said that correct breathing should be only through the nose”.

Lucky for us, breathing is mostly controlled by our Automatic Operating System (AOS), so we don’t have to think about breathing in order for it to happen. We can take control of it when we want to and therein lies the problem. Instead of allowing our bodies to breathe naturally, we sometimes complicate things by trying to control it to “breathe a certain way”.

And if our AOS is more in fight/flight/survival, we’ll tend not to feel our breath happening. This is why you see more and more “smart” watches telling you to stop what you’re doing and breathe. We can get so out of touch with our bodies that we start relying on external cues to tell us to stay alive. It’s like holding onto a scalding pan until someone says “drop it!”

Breathing Naturally

In my experience, there is no ONE right way to breathe. Your brain should be able to sense what’s going on in your body, what its needs are in any given moment. In turn, your brain then should be able to match your breathing with your body’s needs. So if you’re climbing up a steep hill, you should be panting through your mouth, at a certain rhythm. If you’re sitting and reading, your breath should be slower and through the nose.

How do I know this? There isn’t a textbook on breathing. My body just does what it needs. If your AOS is functioning properly then you can just allow your body to breath naturally.

There are many types of breathing, some of which can be used to create altered states of consciousness. Breathing is a powerful tool for healing. One example is the work of Wim Hof. If you want to strengthen your immune system and not get sick, give him a try (

Dr. Joe and I will be presenting another workshop soon on SRI (Somato-Respiratory Integration) which uses breathing as part of a series of brain integration exercises. Stay tuned for it!

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