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You've Been Breathing All Wrong
lungs breathing
Mature human lungs are capable of containing up to 16 quarts of air per lobe, yet on average we only fill them with 5 quarts each at every breath. - photo by

Poor breathing practices affect nearly 90% of the world’s population. You may be saying to yourself “Pshaw! This dimwit is talking through his diaphragm; everybody knows how to breathe, we started doing it the minute we were born.” Yes, you started doing it as soon as the doctor gave you a whack on your tiny backside, and you’re doing it even as you read this post, but you are probably doing it all wrong. Improper breathing leaves you starved for oxygen, promotes bad posture, and can even affect your love life. Read on, my respiring wannabes:
• Mature human lungs are capable of containing up to 16 quarts of air per lobe, yet on average we only fill them with 5 quarts each at every breath. Why is that? We’ve been taught to breathe quietly and not make any rattling or wheezing noises. Forget what you’ve been taught and start to take those deep, delicious breaths that Mother Nature intended you to enjoy. With a little practice you should be able to inhale with the power and force of a Dirt Devil. Just don’t stand too near the dinner table when you’re doing it, or you might wind up with an olive fork embedded in your tonsils.
• Holding your breath is healthy. Never thought of that, did you? Little children know much that we adults have forgotten. Holding your breath until you turn either beet red or arctic blue is a great way to strengthen your gluteus maximums. Do it for 10 minutes each day; soon you’ll be hearing the tiny popping of burst alveoli in your lungs – a sure sign that your respiratory system is cleaning house and throwing out the trash!
• Take one slow breath, followed by four fast ones. This is the secret of all the great Eastern yogis. If you can learn to control your breathing so that you automatically take one slow breath and pant like a dog four times, your Third Eye will be opened and the supercharged oxygen that is now flooding your blood will eventually reach the cranium, where it will fill your little grey cells with so much knowledge and insight that you will either sit right down to compose a symphony, or begin gobbling like a turkey. You may even lay an egg.
• Humming. The Grand Masters of breathing all hum as they breathe. Try something simple to begin with, like the 1812 Overture. The vibration on your upper palate removes dust and stalactites from your nasal cavities, causing them to expand and allow more air to circulate; this in turn will give to your voice the timbre and resonance of a Caruso or a Galli-Curci. You will then be able to sing opera or enter a hog calling contest with complete confidence.
• Lastly, treat your lungs like royalty. If you are around peasants who smoke or are stuck in a plebian traffic jam with exhaust fumes rising, you are doing your lungs a grave injustice. Flee such unhealthy environments and partake of the clear, sparkling air of a mountain top or the cool, refreshing zephyrs of an arctic glacier! Your lungs may burst with pure happiness – but don’t blame us; take it up with our lawyers, Grabby, Windy and Spineless.

Tim lives in Provo, Utah. He dreams constantly about going back to live and teach in Thailand, where he lived for 5 years. He has put his dream into prose form here: