Now Try Something Extraordinary

​Take a deep breath.

Count to ​ten.

Let the breath out.

​Now, ​it probably doesn't feel like​ you've just completed an exceptional feat.

But holding your breath is a very unusual ability in land-living mammals.

Strang​ely, we humans are the only ones who can do this.

​All ​other terrestrial mammals  are on automatic​ so they can't stop their breathing even for a moment.

​The ability to hold​ a breath is necessary for aquatic animals ​as it enables them to go under water. ​The ​mystery is, ​how did us ​earthbound humans​ acquire ​it​?

​One​ controversial ​idea (the Aquatic Ape Theory) that suggests ​our species ha​s this capacity because we lived on the shoreline at ​some early stage of our development. ​This makes sense​ as we are still pretty keen on beaches!

​However it came about there are some interesting side-effects ​ to this breath holding-talent. ​With it comes conscious breath control, a powerful tool ​with many ​uses:

Relaxation: deep yoga style breathing lowers muscle tension and calms the mind.

Pain control: Exercising the ribs and diaphragm during deep slow breaths stretches and mobilises the thorax, neck and shoulders.

Reducing Anxiety: Slow deep breathing tones down the fight-or-flight system

Better Immunity: Vim Hoff has developed a breathing technique that has been shown in clinical trials to boost the immune system

So working on  your breathing can do a lot to make you feel better.

Philip Hambly

Osteopath at the Osteopath Centre from 2008 till present

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