Just Breathe Out: Using Your Breath to Create a New, Healthier You
Betsy Thomason, BA, RRT
North Loop Books
Just as the Weston A. Price Foundation has helped shift the way people look at butter and cholesterol, respiratory therapist Betsy Thomason asks us to think of breathing in a new way. Thomason explains that most of us think of breathing (if indeed we think of it at all) as sucking air in when, in fact, she says it is just the opposite. The BreathOutDynamic (BOD) system “redefines breathing as the active, spine-stretching outbreath and a passive, relaxed inbreath.” In simple terms, the book teaches you how to breathe out-in rather than in-out.
The author uses the metaphor of a fireplace bellows to explain what will happen in your lungs as you do BODs. If you push air out (squeeze the bellows) you create a vacuum and when you expand your belly (open the bellows) the air will automatically and quickly come back in. We don’t need to work at sucking air in. In fact, it wastes energy to do so. Other helpful metaphors include blowing up a balloon and blowing on a pinwheel.
Thomason explains that “most people’s breathing is rapid and shallow, leaving the body pleading to take in more oxygen and get rid of more carbon dioxide.” The “pleas” come in the form of health problems but we don’t recognize them as a cry for oxygen, or if we do we don’t know how to help ourselves. Do we simply get connected to an oxygen tank? Thomason suggests we focus on and change our breathing. Through her professional work and in her research, she has seen that this system offers improvements in energy, pain management, athletic performance and overall health.
The author’s metaphors and simple how-to chapter make BODs easy to learn and start right away. I was able to do BODs in only a few minutes after reading just part of the book—which is great for busy people who want to do something effective for their health without a huge investment of time. I found the simplicity and brevity attractive with one exception—why are we just learning this now and have we been breathing wrong since humans took their first breath? She only mentions briefly the fact that the method was developed by Ian Jackson, an Olympic cycling coach, although ancient yogis knew this method but only told a few. Even infants breathe this way when they are first born, but later lose it.
In every other regard I liked the concise, clear explanation and format of the book. Thomason seems to have anticipated the many questions a reader would have and answered them with enough of the research, anecdotal evidence and practical explanations (including drawings) to make it convincing to try and succeed at doing BODs. Even if done only a few minutes a day, it is helpful. As the author explains, “BODs maximize well-being because every cell in your body relies on the oxygen you breathe for its existence and intelligence, and because breathing efficiency equals effectiveness.” My pinwheel and thumb are up—and my breath is out for this book!
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Summer 2017.