Jun 28, 2021
In the last year, on the OS BodCast, I’ve interviewed a lot of people about breathing. It started with an interview with James Nester, the author or Breath. In Breath, James unfolded the work of many breathing pioneers, or what he calls “pulmanauts.” I know it’s odd to think there are breathing pioneers, after all, humans have been breathing since our time began. But somewhere along the way, in all that time we’ve had to become expert breathers, we’ve become experts at breathing compensations, alterations, and manipulations.
Many of us, most of us, have strayed away from the design of our breath and this is unfortunate because every single thing about us is built upon how we breathe. There is nothing about us that is not affected by our breath. Our hormones, our thoughts, our movements, our emotions, our immune system, our endocrine system, our posture - name anything about yourself, your breath is at the foundation of it.
Anyway, with the help of a friend, the James Nester interview led to a slew of interviews from some of the world's top breathing experts, or “master pulmanauts.” I interviewed Chuck McGhee, a Master Wim Hoff breathing instructor. Chuck was able to overcome several physical issues through learning this method, it changed his life. So much so that he changed careers and became a Master Instructor for Wim Hoff.
From there I interviewed Patrick McKeown, author of The Oxygen Advantage. Patrick is probably the smartest person I’ve ever talked to. His knowledge about how the body uses oxygen and carbon dioxide is simply fascinating. Like Chuck, learning how to breathe changed Patrick’s life and fostered a career change. Patrick teaches the world the art of functional breathing.
I also interviewed Anders Olssen, the creator of the Conscious Breathing technique. Anders ran a half marathon with duct tape across his lips. He was trying to see if he could nasal breathe the whole time and not drink any water. He succeeded, thankfully, that’s how I was able to interview him.
From there, I interviewed several of Carl Stough’s students. Carl is known as Dr. Breath, though he was not a doctor, he was a brilliant singing teacher who discovered the transformative power of the diaphragm. Carl paved the way for Jessica Wolfe, creator of the Art of Breathing, Lynn Martin and Robin De Hass, creators of MDH Breathing Coordination, and Jean McClelland, voice and breathing teacher.
I guess the BodCast should probably be called the BreathCast. I know what you're thinking, "Where does he come up with these things?" Anyway, the BodCast has been rich with the world’s top pulmanauts. One interesting thing to note is that none of these pulmanauts were in the medical, health, or fitness fields. Most of them were “regular folk” dealing with their own maladies. Others were singers, actors, and voice coaches. All of them have become healers to tens of thousands.
Another interesting thing to note is that for the most part, they all have their own ideas and practices for achieving health and wholeness through breath. From Wim Hoff to Buteyko, to the Art of Breathing, to Functional breathing, to Breathing Coordination - they all differ, very strongly in some parts. While I lean towards the natural design of breath, I cannot argue that all of these methods have been used to heal people. And through their differences, they all have one major commonality: breath awareness, or conscious breathing practices. It seems there are many paths that can be taken down the breathing road to better health, but the foundation of each of those paths is awareness, attention, and focus on the breath.
Having the opportunity to talk with these amazing teachers has changed how I look at breathing. I’ve always known it was super important, but now I see it through a lens of awe. It is the bedrock of who we are. I encourage you to listen to these pulmanauts and hear what they have to say. Your breath is everything. It determines the course of your life and it influences everything about you, even your relationships with others. If nothing else, pay attention to your breath. It seems that once you notice it and become aware of it, everything changes for the better.