A cure for hiccups

[It] boils down to a simple breathing exercise. First, exhale completely, then inhale a deep breath. Wait 10 seconds, then—without exhaling—inhale a little more. Wait another five seconds, then top up the breath again. Finally, exhale.

~ Uri Bram from, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2023/02/scientific-hiccup-cures-hiccaway-straw-ssmi-breathing/673151/

Sometimes I straight-up do public service announcements. Here, have a cure for hiccups!

If you’ve thought about how proper breathing works, you’ll quickly realize those instructions involve incrementally, increasingly flexing your diaphragm muscle. (If that isn’t obvious, the Thoracic diaphragm page on Wikipedia has you covered.) The muscle spasm is part of a feedback loop involving two of our nerves, and intentionally activating the muscle breaks that feedback. The trick is that you need to really flex it… flex it much harder than you normally do when breathing.

Note that if you do the “hold your breath” part of the exercise by closing your glottis (what’s that?) and relaxing your diaphragm, you’re doing it wrong. The entire point of the exercise is to flex, flex, flex and hold tension in the diaphragm muscle.



I’m gobsmacked. I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time on breath work. In the last few days, something new clicked into place for me. Hopefully, this saves someone somewhere some time on the learning curve:

Ashtanga yoga is about breathing. You may also notice there is some movement involved in Ashtanga; Don’t be distracted by the movement! The movement is irrelevant if you haven’t discovered the importance of the breathing.

I’ve written a lot about my personal restorative practice. Breathing and relaxing into the things I do has been an important part of it for a loong time. I cherish my 15 years of study in a style of Aikido where breath is integral to the physicality. I spent a few years regularly practicing Tai chi, and later a few years with Yinn yoga. But Ashtanga yoga never clicked for me. Sure, it’s always a great workout. But I could never really get into it as a practice. I’d bet I’ve been in hundreds of situations where someone (random warmups, movement and martial artists of every stripe, and proper yoga instructors of countless flavors) has led what has aspired to be Ashtanga yoga. Without exception, it has always been a bashing struggle for me.

Because it’s about breathing. No two people are going to have the same breathing. Absolutely, I can imagine that at advanced physical and mental levels, people could synchronize their breathing and then they could do Ashtanga yoga in sync. But that’s not me. Not me at all.

To be really clear: I’m not bashing on Ashtanga — nonono. I’m freakin’ excited because now I feel like …scratch that! Now I can practice Ashtanga. I look forward to it! I’m looking forward to practicing it for a while, and then finding an instructor and taking a class to get help improving. Rather than my old, “please lead me through the sequence”, I’m looking forward to, “please help me improve my sequence”. Which I’m betting will be instruction on breath, and maybe some instruction on movements too.


Email apnea

Over the course of six months, Stone observed the breathing patterns of hundreds of people while seated at a computer. She found that four out of five held their breath or breathed shallowly while checking their email.

~ Jessica Fish from, https://cmxhub.com/drop-stop-and-breathe-curing-email-apnea-for-community-professionals/

This is not a metaphor. Literal apnea while reading email. Not some people, but most people. Practice breathing— far too many people think they know how to breath, when in fact they don’t. Practice posture— far too many people think they know how to sit, when in fact they don’t. Practice getting up and fleeing from your computer— far too many…