Breathe: A Book Review

Fast Lung Recovery Methods by an World Elite Athlete

Darya Klishina’s story is a light read, and yet there’s a lot to take away from this relatively short, easy read. Darya shares what it was like growing up in and making her way as an elite athlete in Russia. The real point of the story, though, is how she became extremely ill with pneumonia roughly ten years ago and was left with severely damaged lungs.

She shares her journey to recover her health, aided by her Dad (her coach) and another coach — and an incredibly unlikely meeting with a woman in her building. That woman was from India,  an Ayurvedic expert, who just happened to be renting in Darya’s building at the time and ran into her as Darya attempted to climb the stairs to her apartment when she was released from the hospital.

She taught Darya breathing exercises and also showed her how to cook healing Indian foods and drinks.

Within a relatively short time after her illness, following her coaches’ and Ayurvedic Doctor’s regimens, Darya went back to the hospital to have her lungs re-imaged, and they were healed. She has gone on to become an Olympian.

As a Yoga teacher, the ties to Ayurveda caught my eye, and also of course the fact that Darya was an athlete. The writing is simple, there are no Chapter titles, and yet the story really engaged me. It’s a fast read. In addition to the breathing exercises, Darya also includes some physical exercises and some Indian recipes (I tried the Masala Chai, which was good).


I’m linking up with My First 5K and MoreRunning With Attitude, Runs with PugsZenaida and Run Laugh Eat Pie for Fit Five Friday. Today I’m sharing 5 tips/quotes about breathing from Darya Klishina’s book Breathe — you can buy it on Amazon here (Amazon Affiliate link).

Remember the following are Darya’s words (for the most part), not mine.

1: Control Your energy
By controlling our breath, we can control:

  • Our emotional state
  • Our ability to concentrate
  • Our body’s energy

2: Start Easy
The muscles connected with breathing should be trained just like other muscles. If you overdo it with the exercises, they can become inelastic. If during the practice you start feeling dizzy or fatigued, you should slow down. You shouldn’t strain — the air should freely flow into your lungs, and you should feel comfortable.

3: Rejuvenate Your Body
Breathing exercises are a well-known way of rejuvenating the body. Its main healing property is increasing the absorption of oxygen by the body. The blood fills with oxygen and nourishes all the organs of the system.

The exercises in this book increase the capacity of the lungs and strengthen the muscle structure of the inner layers.

4: Using All of Our Lungs
When we inhale, the diaphragm moves down to the abdomen. the atmospheric pressure in the chest decreases and air goes to the lungs to equalize the pressure. The ribcage rises, opens, and forms space.

When we exhale, the diaphragm relaxes and returns to its former position. The ribs go down and the air gets out.

If we don’t breathe deeply, then we don’t use the diaphragm effectively; we use only a part of the lungs’ capacity and let the air stay inside during the exhale.

5: Start easy & watch your stats
Darya recommends a gradual progression of exercises as you recover. She also recommends recording your pulse, blood pressure, and oxygenation after you perform these exercises. She suggests you don’t return to hard training until your oxygenation is at least 97-8%.

She also suggests that as you ease back into running from walking, continue to check your pulse; if it’s higher than your maximum HR should be, you’ve returned too soon to running and should continue walking .

I would definitely think Alternate Nostril breathing would be beneficial.

Final Thoughts
I was a bit disappointed that the five breathing exercises Darya recommends were ones I already know and practice — on the other hand, I guess that’s a good thing! The exercises are:

  • Breath of Fire (I have a tutorial for this here)
  • Ujjayi breath
  • Exhale for twice as long as your inhale (so say inhale 3 counts, exhale 6 counts) with a slight hold between the inhales and exhales.
  • Humming Bee breath
  • Shitali or Shitari breath (a cooling breath)

I was also very surprised that Darya did not include Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana) — I will have a video for that in my Spring into Action program, which you can sign up for here.

I read this short book in a just a day or so. I’m not quite sure why, but I couldn’t put it down. I’m sure it’s not a lot of people’s cup of tea, so to speak, but it fascinated me and I think Darya’s life story is engaging and her optimism contagious — along with sound advice on ways to stay healthy and heal.

Have you ever tried any breathing exercises?

Do you sometimes find yourself surprised by the type of books that keep you engaged?

16 thoughts on “Breathe: A Book Review

  1. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like an interesting book for you. As you said it’s not my cup of tea.

    Lately I am reading mindless mysteries to get rid of job stress.

    I only do those breathing exercises in a yoga class. Lol.

    Probably should do more. I don’t have full lung capacity due to a collapsed lung many years ago. It doesn’t affect my running at all but I can’t blow out candles. LWP.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have taken a few classes here and there where the focus is on breathing. I am not good at it.I am sure it would benefit me more if I did work on it more. I can’t focus on it. Sounds like an interesting book

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This book would probably be helpful for most people, because breathing too shallowly is a common problem. I can’t say I think about my breathing much, other than during a yoga class. But sometimes later in the day after I’ve taken a class, I’ll find myself taking a big, deep breath and I’ll think “that felt good!” So I think the yoga breathing helps.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review, Judy! I should practice some of these breathing techniques to calm me down when my student is giving me a hard time. He was out for 2 days and came back today. I thought it would be a good day but it wasn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I tend to perpetually hold my breath. It gives me some sense of control when I have none.

    this sounds really interesting. Even though you were familiar with the techniques, that means they are tried and true.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My husband holds his breath a lot too! It drives me nuts! At least you realize that you’re doing it.

      It was actually an easy read and very interesting. Very good info for runners, too — she’s a pole vaulter, so she does actually run as well.


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