SIDE by side with everything else that helps us to live rightly, side by side with better foods and drinks, better homoeopathic and other remedies, better posture, better exercises in general, we should practice really deep breathing. It costs nothing and has admirable all-round results, especially when it has become a habit.
Now the usual way is for people to breathe up and forward. Ask people to take a deep breath and, almost inevitably, they will raise their shoulders; and up will come their chest. This is precisely the way not to do it. It is advocated by the Swedish System, but is absolutely the reverse of what should be done in order to ensure real health-and, I would say, real help for the brain and nerves.
No worse method of deep breathing could possibly be devised than the simply-forward and-upward expansion. Raise your shoulders, raise your chest; and there you are with the wrong method-at least if it is advocated as the right method.
I can scarcely believe that a system basing its inhaling upon this upper breathing could have got through with it and been foisted on may so-called “civilized” nations. The acceptance by the authorities can only be due to the ignorance of the authorities and the swank of the advocates.
No people who knew anything whatsoever about genuinely deep breathing would have dreamt of including this kind of idea among the national list of health-helps; yet this is what has happened. This upper breathing is the rule, not the exception, throughout our country, by custom and by order.
Undoubtedly we most of us want more of that free-of-cost oxygen which is the greatest anti-acid in the world. And most troubles are connected with acidosis. But how to get the oxygen into us is as altogether different matter. You can inhale a little more by this lifting of the shoulders; but you do not get anywhere near the root of the trouble when you try this method. This expansion of the lungs upwards and forwards is a miserable apology for the right way.
The human chest has the form of a flattened cone. If we wish to expand a flattened cone made of some flexible material, we can obviously not expand it to the greatest extent at the narrow top, but at the capacious and wide bottom. If you wish to increase your chest capacity, you must remember that the chest is like a flattened cone. Obviously you cannot increase its capacity much at the top, where most of the “civilized” people expand, but to a great extent to the sides and backwards and forwards, and to a still greater extent down below.
I have not the slightest desire to get a huge number of applicants for breathing-lessons. Such lessons become rather a weariness for a busy man; and the whole thing is now so commonplace to me. The sense of it is so absolutely and hopelessly (or hopefully) plain that I feel sure a few words in this paper will put people on the right lines, rather than compel them to spend a large sum in having exercises (or courses of exercises) in breathing.
But, at the same time, I would say that, if anyone is too lazy to study this thing, I could, with a few days notice, offer a personal lesson in deep and full breathing, lasting ten minutes, which would give the individual enough practice for one whole year, so many times a day. Let readers take their choice. Let them make an appointment with me, at an apparently exorbitant charge; or let them work out their own salvation, expanding their lungs outwards in all four directions – namely, to both sides outwards, and then backwards and downwards, and forwards and downwards.
By this means not only are the lungs expanded, and more oxygen introduced into the system, but the organs below the diaphragm- especially the stomach and liver, but also the intestines, etc. – are massaged, and the whole of the health of the body is improved.
The breath should be inhaled through the nostrils, held in for a few moments, and then exhaled as thoroughly as possible. The exhaling, as well as the inhaling, should generally be through the nostrils.