Book Review – ‘The Breathing Cure’ by Patrick McKeown

The Breathing Cure by Patrick McKeown

Review of ‘The Breathing Cure’ by Patrick Mckeown

“Mouths are for eating, and Noses are for Breathing.”

Firstly, I will say that I struggled to read ‘The Oxygen Advantage’ as it focused on high performance and athletes. This book is where is addresses that problem and puts his focus on different conditions and issues that breath health can improve.

I loved that he put all the exercises at the beginning! I’ve been focusing on improving my ‘BOLT’ (Blood, Oxygen, Level, Test) Score by practising the breath holds and progressing to breath holds whilst walking, and it has improved my score.

If you were to go no further into the book, you would still have acquired the essential information about functional breathing.

The question I get asked the most in my Breathwork classes is, ‘I thought it was better to breathe through the nose. Why are we mouth breathing?’ The answer is that when we’re doing Conscious Connected Breathing, we’re focusing on the biochemical aspect of the breath. We’re changing our blood composition to achieve an altered state of consciousness. This breathing method wouldn’t be appropriate for everyday life – ‘The Breathing Cure’ is the book to use for that functional breath.

He splits functional breathing into three different dimensions;

  1. Biochemical – your breath can change your body ph levels
  2. Biomechanical – what muscles are you using? Are you breathing efficiently?
  3. Cadence – how fast are you breathing?

He surmises that most of us in the modern world have a breathing problem – we’re either mouth breathers, breathing too fast or a combination of both. And this is leading to all sorts of issues among us modern-day humans, from general fatigue and poor concentration to heartburn, panic attacks and migraines.

It makes sense when you read the book that breathing is the primary energy source for our body, and we don’t even think about it. 

Mouth Taping

The book talks about why mouth breathing is so bad for us. Nasal breathing performs at least 30 functions for us – the most important of these are oxygenating the blood, organs and cells. Breathing through the nose filters and warms the air before it enters the lungs. The best way to breathe is in and out through the nose. Your nose is also the first line of defence of your immune system, a molecule called ‘Nitric Oxide’ is made in the back of the nose. The concentration is 100 times higher in the back of the nose than further down the airways. Nitric Oxide has many functions, from vasodilatory to pulmonary blood flow to local host defence. 

To achieve more profound and more prolonged sleep, he says we should tape our mouths up during sleep. You can buy a special tape called ‘myotape’ for this. I’ve tried it, and it does make a difference. If the thought of taping your mouth up during the night scares you, you need to do it, and it will help calm your nervous system down.

So what about the exercises?

The exercises are easy to do, but they make you uncomfortable – he likes us to feel air hunger. I guess it’s a bit like intermittent fasting – you must experience hunger for many good bodily mechanisms to kick in.

I’ve been practising them, and I am noticing a difference: I can now hold my breath longer, and my BOLT score has improved (you’ll be surprised at how bad your BOLT score is when you first start).

The book then describes conditions such as asthma, sexual problems, sleep problems, diabetes, and epilepsy – all conditions optimal breathing can improve.

I found the section on the female hormones particularly interesting; yes, we females breath differently from men, and we breathe differently at different times in our monthly and life cycles. He shows how paced breathing can help to reduce menopause symptoms.

This book has given me a good understanding of the difference between breathing functionally and connected breathing – both are so good, but for different reasons and outcomes.

I’ve now got a much greater understanding of how breathing can affect so many functions of our bodies – we need to breathe correctly. Through practising the exercises myself, I’ve improved my functional breath.

The Breathing Cure by Patrick McKeown
The Breathing Cure, by Patrick McKeown

Read this book if you have a particular interest in breathing. It has given me a deeper understanding of the breath and the broad-reaching issues that it can help.

It’s also given me a clear understanding of how to breathe optimally and what exercises to do to calm my central nervous system.

This book is for you if you have conditions such as asthma or any sleep problems – but prepare to go deep!

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