The Absurdity of This Theory
If it is true that the oldest, living, animals breathe the slowest, shouldn't we look at breath rate when considering longevity? Since there is a direct connection between health and longevity, we would want to look into breath rate and its connection to health. Longevity and breath rate go hand in hand. Let's step away from aesthetics and peak performance; the original goal of the exercise, and it is the goal for many, is health. Within this context of health, there are aspects “feeling good” and “living longer”.
Now a long life may be subjective, relative to genetics, culture, etc. Yet getting the most out of our bodies by caring for them optimally (which is the point of this article) is a practice everyone can partake in. Mechanically speaking, feeling good is a byproduct of moderation, as the law dictates the harder you are on anything the faster you destroy it. But, if you don’t use it you lose it or it will atrophy. There needs to be activation, but optimally that activation should be gentle or moderate. So moderation is the key.
Coincidentally, when you are moderate as opposed to being extreme, your breath rate will be slower. Now moderation is also relative and subjective. In other words, it's very personal. Yet this is all stuff for another blog called “The absurdity of western fitness”. So as crazy or antithetical to our cultural fitness tendencies as it may seem, strenuous physicality really goes against health and longevity due to it speeding up our breath rate/heart rate (as well as overtaxing our bodies). With moderate activity, the breath rate will be slower than within extreme physical or cardio activity. So why are we pushing our bodies so hard? Ego? Vanity? Conditioning?
Living long or longevity has a direct connection to breath rate. Breath rate and heart rate (heartbeats per minute) are intertwined. As physical activity starts to become strenuous, the heart rate increases followed by the breath, or maybe it’s vice versa. Knowing this, how intense should exercise be if feeling good and longevity are the goal? It’s no coincidence that walking is considered to be the healthiest exercise on earth! When you walk, our rate of breath remains fairly slow. Now another interesting fact is that up to 95% of physical disease (which quite often shortens our lives) is stress-related and when we are stressed our breath shortens and heart rate increases.
So for health and longevity, we need to stay relaxed, our hearts should beat slowly not fast. To keep the breath rate slow or natural the physical activity should be moderate or gentle. With moderate activity, we will not see the extreme changes to our body our ego so deeply desires due to our culture’s emphasis and ideas on beauty. How can we reconcile this paradox? How can we be more dominated by our wisdom than our vanity? Can we stop forcing our body (and mind) to conform to the absurd mentality of “ more is better” or “no pain no gain”? Can we allow our bodies to look natural instead of “beautiful”? Can we be dominated by wisdom instead of vanity (fear)? Can we be more gentle than aggressive? Can we shift our conditioning without any cultural support?
This is not easy! This is yoga!
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