I've been looking for a good book on breathing for awhile.
One particular way it helped me is with the "no breathing" confidence exercises we do in Systema class. And because I was "out of breath," not breathing while exerting myself further caused me to panic, even though I knew that panicking was only using up oxygen faster. The book describes a natural pause between inhale and exhale. These things will give you the confidence to know that you can make it through extreme circumstances." Before reading Let Every Breath, if I had found myself in a situation where I could not breathe, I know for a fact that I would have panicked, felt despair, maybe even enough to give up! But now, I know that I can hold my breathe at least for a little while without panicking, it will certainly increase my chances of surviving such a situation. Another paragraph from the book which helped me quite a bit was the idea of breathing "through" the entire body during difficult conditioning exercises. I knew that it is helpful to visualize "breathing in" through the muscles that are under exertion, but the breath penetrates the entire body. But I have to confess, I wasn't entirely convinced that visualizing breathing through the entire body would actually bring increased oxygen to restricted areas. But it does seem to help, I'm not sure how or why, but I definitely feel less restriction to those areas when I envision breathing "through" the entire body. One thing I'd like to work on further is the concept of independence of breath, because I think that I have too closely tied pain management or exertion with exhaling. But now that I've been training for a few years, I think it would be beneficial to look more closely at my breathing and its correlation to certain activities in training like accepting strikes, yielding to joint locks, falls and rolls, and even just exertion. Even though I have been training in Russian Martial Art, after reading Let Every Breath, I realized that I stop my breathing at certain times, especially when I'm suprised: when the train lurches suddenly, when I accidentally drop something I'm carrying, or stumble, or knock something off my desk. It's subtle, but so important, if you think of how long most people can go without breathing, 10 or 20 seconds, perhaps a bit more, then it becomes apparent why even the smallest change in breathing will affect the whole body, and overall quality of life. Quote: "Everyday that you live without proper breathing is another little step of submitting to stress and deterioration of your health." -Vladimir Vasiliev And that's why Let Every Breath is such an important book. Fish need water, we need air, no creature can survive without the life-giving force of the universe, and the best way to appreciate any gift is to accept it with humble gratitude, and use it wisely and well.
Let Every Breath gave me a lot to think about and at least eight years' worth of things to work on. First they have you doing lots and lots of push-ups while doing interesting breath patterns...with no tension anywhere in your body. Just as I was trying to figure out if I (with my pathetic upper body strength) could possibly work up to doing a push-up that slowly if I did it from my knees, the author has a helpful suggestion. So I particularly enjoyed it as the writer explained that the double leg lift was easy for breath work because hey! But I am modifying every exercise for myself, based on the thought that breathing in these patterns under physical stress will probably bring me most of the same benefits: it just takes a lot less to stress my body that it does for, say, a Navy Seal. Yes, as other reviewers have said, the actual content is more of a fat pamphlet than a book. I am grateful that the author boiled down this game-changing teaching into so few words, so that we can grasp the important things and start working on them immediately.
Thus, developing ones breathing should be the focus in any exercise.