Continuing our brief foray through James Nestor’s brilliant brain and book, let’s take another moment to focus on the power of our breath.
Shall we start with his take on a perfect breath?
Bust out that stopwatch again…
5.5 seconds on the inhale…
5.5 seconds on the exhale…
Repeat for 5.5 breaths per minute…
Today we’re going to talk about oral posture.
James tells us that, for a range of reasons, our facial structures have changed dramatically over the last x hundred years—shrinking our mouths and making it more difficult to breathe properly.
Quoting a leading “pulmonaut,” he tells us that the first step to improving airway obstruction isn’t orthodontics “but instead involved maintaining correct ‘oral posture.’ Anyone could do this, and it was free.”
What’s good oral posture look like?
Glad you asked.
James tells us: “It just meant holding the lips together, teeth lightly touching, with your tongue on the roof of the mouth. Hold the head up perpendicular to the body and don’t kink the neck. When sitting or standing, the spine should form a J-shape—perfectly straight until it reaches the small of the back, where it naturally curves outward. While maintaining this posture, we should always breathe slowly through the nose into the abdomen.
Our bodies and airways are designed to work best in this posture, both Mews agreed. Look at any Greek statue, or a drawing by Leonardo, or an ancient portrait. Everyone shared this J-shape. But if we look around public spaces today, it’s obvious that most people have shoulders hunched forward, neck extended outward, and an S-shaped spine. ‘A bunch of village idiots, that’s what we’ve become,’ shouted Mike, He then assumed this ‘idiot’ position, inhaled a few short, puffy, open-mouth breaths, and looked around dumbly. ‘It’s bloody killing us!’”
We’ve spent a fair amount of time talking about proper posture.
We know we can go from weak to strong by flipping the Clark Kent to Superman switch as we strike an Amy Cuddy’s Presence-inspired Power Pose. And/or we can remember to channel some Eric Goodman wisdom to keep our chests up and chins down as we stay True to Form.
But what about our “oral posture”?
As it turns out, there’s a right way to do that as well. And, as it turns out, getting that oral posture right is important if we want to Optimize our breathing.
Two parts. First, we strike a power pose like we just discussed to channel our inner Greek statue and make sure our bodies make a J-shape rather than an S-shape.
Then we shut our mouths (lips together!) and put our tongues to the roof of our mouths.
How about right now?
And all day TODAY.