We are all expert breathers. By all of us, I mean every living being that depends on oxygen to survive. Last week I observed a Grey Seal lounging on top of a rock in the Sea Pool at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. As the Grey Seal lay flat on his back, facing the pool’s rim, flippers resting gently on top of his chest, I watched him breathe. The seal appeared to be sleeping as he breathed in and out, slowly and rhythmically. So entranced was I by the rise and fall of his chest that it surprised me when his head popped up and he briefly surveyed the scene before returning to his resting state. Naturally, Grey Seal is not the only master of breath. From the first slap on the back when we’re born to the age of 80, each of us will have inhaled and exhaled approximately 756,864,000 times (Dana, 2018, pg. 134).
If we are all expert breathers from birth, what’s all the recent fuss about breathing as a skill, an art, a practice? Before responding to this question, it may be helpful to understand how the respiration process works and its function in the body. Stay with me as I describe the scientific process of breathing.
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