Now it s an ology Some say he can swim 72m under ice wearing only trunks and goggles (not too many takers for that one, I d imagine). Others swear he can lie face-down in a tank full of sharks and make a lungful of pure oxygen last just over 20 minutes. All we know is that he s the Stig. In fact Danish freediver Stig Avall Severinsen performed both those feats in the space of a month only last year, and we know this not only because he says so but because the Guinness Book of World Records agrees. Stig has also set three AIDA freediving world records (three for dynamic apnea and one, which he held for a year in 2003/4, for constant weight without fins to 61m). The book based on his experience as a freediver, Breatheology, apparently did well in his native country and is now published in English. Breatheology should certainly help freedivers and perhaps scuba-divers too, but it is aimed at everybody, because Stig believes that good control of our breathing is a way of linking body and mind to achieve a tempting range of health and fitness dividends. The book is very well written, and as a biologist with a PhD in medicine, Stig knows his stuff. At the same time, the reader should be prepared to hand in at the door any cynicism about treating this most natural of human functions as a study course, and any resistance you may have to talk of chakras, prana and third eyes. The ways of yoga do, of course, loom large. This is a self-help book containing theory and exercises. Every so often there is a short testimonial from a follower, which is a little off-putting because it reminds you that respiration is, after all, a business for Stig. But if you wish to breathe more easily or more powerfully this is the book for you. Steve Weinman --DIVER UK June 2011
Those who breathe half, live half , it says on the cover of Stig Avall Severinsen's newly published book "Breatheology The Art of Conscious Breathing". And one is tempted to add: "What's worth doing is worth doing right". Stig's book is an integrated book on a subject that Stig really is an expert on, namely to breathe and hold your breath. We know Stig as a fast-talking freediver, and a man who engages passionately in his interests. He has certainly also been passionate with his new book. One might well have started such a review with the words: "First came the Bible, then the Koran and now "Breatheology". To Stig, breathing is almost like a religion. A good, healthy breathing is good for anything, and the healing powers of breathing are almost unlimited. And this near-religious enthusiasm for breathing is brilliantly reflected in his book. Most of the points and statements are nicely backed by both scientific and practical experience. But it is not the book's greatest force. Its biggest strength is that you can feel Stig's uncompromising enthusiasm for belief in the ability of breathing to generate more energy and other healing properties. You want to join the club and become one of the disciples. You want to become better at using your own breathing. This book is not about freediving, or about accomplishing top performances, nor about holding your breath beyond human limits. This book is about how we all can benefit by focusing on our breath in our daily life. The book is built up on a number of themes. Initially Stig describes how the life of modern man is stressful, and how breathing has become restless and in many cases is not being fully exploited. How good breathing is at reducing stress and creating energy, and how our fast and shallow breathing can have the opposite effect. The book thus begins with the "normality", describing our bad breathing habits in everyday life. Thereafter, the book centers on 5 types of breathing, or perhaps 5 purposes of breathing: trained breathing, sustained breath, powerful breathing, therapeutic breathing and soothing breathing. As a reader, you can easily select the chapters and read them in the sequence you wish. But I recommend that you read the introductory chapters first. The book concludes with a chapter on first aid. It seems a little superficial but ok. After each chapter, Stig describes specific breathing exercises, finely illustrated with excellent drawings and pictures. This exercise catalog is a real force of the book. There are exercises for different purposes ranging from very easy to really difficult. Exercises for everyone. The book is setup nicely with lovely pictures and is printed in a good quality. Of course there are also things that are less good. For example, there is a series of laudatory quotes from happy students who have participated in Stig s courses. Here and there the book's strength, the almost religious belief and enthusiasm, becomes the book's weakness when it gets out of control and becomes too sacred. This happens, for example, when Stig presents recipes for a healthy life. These recipes are as simple as they are right, "eat healthy and exercise" but are sometimes a bit "condescending", not the least when Stig for instance points out that it is important to chew your food slowly, many times and on both sides. We know this the tough part is to get it done. Looking at the book from a sports psychological angle, it is important to emphasize that the book is not a book about performance psychology and mental training. Finally, a simple theme like breathing is material enough for an entire book. the answer is "Yes", for it is not so simple after all. It is both science and religion. --Kristoffer Henriksen (1974) - MD , Sports psychologist and PHD Fellow
Stig Avall Severinsen (born 1973) is a four time World Champion freediver. Freediving consists of diving deep or long while holding your breath. He holds a Master s degree in biology (2001) and a PhD in medicine (2007) from the University of Aarhus, Denmark. During the last decade he has practiced and investigated the beneficial effects of breathing and breath holding on body and mind. Through his company BlueConsult, blueconsult.biz, and his international web community breatheology, he of¬fers courses and lectures on efficient breathing and mental training.