The Human Operating Manual


Without the tireless hard work of our respiratory systems, we wouldn’t make it very far. Whereas we can go weeks, and in some cases months, without food. The autonomous ebb and flow of air passing through our lungs is a crucial process for gas exchange to occur, and without gas exchange, cellular respiration and energy production would be impossible. In fact, breathing is so essential that we take approximately 20,000 breaths every day, without any conscious effort on our part.

Which brings us to the purpose of this section… If breathing is an automated process, why do we need to bother learning how to consciously breathe?            

While the importance of breathing for survival is generally accepted, there is a long list of immensely powerful and scientifically proven breathing techniques that modern day individuals could stand to benefit from. Training and utilizing well researched breathing techniques have been shown to drastically downregulate your autonomic nervous system (eliciting a calmful mind-state), upregulate your nervous system for deep focus, and even regulating and strengthening your immune system. However, we currently relegate the study of the breath to the incense-filled rooms of the Western yoga class. Unfortunately, for those of us with “modernized” lifestyles, who don’t embody the lifestyle of a yogi master, we tend to suffer from the high chest breath of the West. The unfortunate consequence of a high-stress lifestyle alongside wellbeing neglect, resulting in fearful, untrusting, and anxious behavior.      

On a positive note, we have the power to reset our current default state from the defensive fight-or-flight mode, to a state that is much more conducive towards a life of love, learning, and longevity. This can all be achieved by spending a few minutes per day focusing on natural breathing techniques. Making it possible to improve our immune systems, increase our physical performance, regulate our nervous systems, and more importantly, regain control of our health and wellbeing. Skills that are becoming increasingly valuable in a society where perpetual busyness has left us breathless. 

The links below offer options that range from nervous system downregulation exercises for the anxious, upregulation exercises for high performers, cheat-sheets for the health DIYers among us, and a one-way trip down the rabbit hole of respiration research and exploration. 

As my good friend and recognized breathing expert, Fraser Beck, often says:

“Breathing is the epicenter of human function”

So, pick a starting point, practice the lessons, and be prepared to discover just how deep the functional breathwork rabbit hole goes. 

JayPT +