The art of learning to breathe properly

I thought I knew how to breathe properly. My years of studying dance at various institutions have all involved tuition on breathing and its relationship with movement and posture. So I was sceptical when I joined my step-sister Octavia’s online breathwork classes – what more was there to learn? My first class was in lockdown, at a time when many of us felt in a continual state of anxiety. We were guided through various techniques that manipulated the rate and depth of our breathing. It was dynamic and intense, much harder than I imagined. But nothing much happened at first. I started to think that maybe this wasn’t for me.

We all breathe – 25,000 times a day – so why aren’t we better at it?

Covid-19 has been bad news for writers with books coming out — unless the book is about breathing. We’re all now gripped by our airways, by the significance of a runny nose, a sore throat or chest tightness. We know to dread that once obscure symptom, anosmia. We debate the risks of breathing through two-ply cotton. Thousands of ITU patients delegate their respiratory effort to machines that punch at compliant lungs. The world was winded by George Floyd’s last words: ‘I can’t breathe.’ James Nestor’s fascinating new book is playful and optimistic. Everyone breathes — 25,000 times each day — but few of us are good at it. Evolution prioritised