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You'll Love This! - Breath Practices with Humpback Whales

Three miles north of Cape Cod on a whale watching excursion in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, I had the exhilarating experience of first hearing, then seeing, humpback whales. The distinct primal sounds of these fellow mammals reminded me of my own yogic breathing practices. Unlike humans, all breathing is voluntary for whales.

When we practice breathing techniques like the one at the end of this post and on this page, we suspend our normal involuntary breathing and breathe voluntarily like whales.


As our boat approached a group of three adults and a baby, it was so foggy that it was difficult to see them. Take a one minute break to listen to the sounds of the whales as they breathe. At 45 seconds you can hear the unusual squeaking sound of the whale named, Milkweed, who was born with a constriction in one of her breath openings.


In the next video, the fog has lifted and the picture is clearer. You can see the three adult whales, the mother, Cajun; Pele, and Milkweed. The flat smooth circle on the surface of the water is called a whale's 'footprint.'


In this last video, the marine biologist who guided our trip explained the powerful breathing capactiy of a whale. Humans breathe only absorb 5% of the oxygen in a single breath whereas a whale can absorb as much as 90% of the oxygen in each breath.

You can support healthy breathing through breath practices. Try abdominal breathing shown below to maintain strong lung capacity. You can also find breath practices on this page of my website.

Abdominal Breathing Practice

Lay in a comfortable position on your back.

Rest one hand on top of your abdomen and the other on your chest.

Breathe in through slowly through your nose and fill your lungs.

Feel the chest and abdomen as they rise.

Hold the breath it 7 seconds, if possible, if not possible, then to your ability.

Exhale slowly from the mouth, squeezing the abdominal muscles at the end to fully exhale.

Complete this practice for three rounds.


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