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The First Rule of Breathing

Eager to learn the first step towards healthy breathing? Do you know if you are a horizontal or vertical breather? Dr. Belisa Vranich, leading psychologist, author, and breathing expert, helps us break down the most important step in breathing the right way to improve your overall health.

What’s wrong with the way you’re breathing? While breathing is something we innately do from birth, we have picked up some bad habits along the way. If, when you inhale, your breath feels like it travels from the bottom of your lungs to the top and your chest and shoulders move upward, you’re a “vertical breather,” like 95 percent of adults. That means you only use a fraction of your lungs to take in air which strains your shoulders and neck. Essentially, this is not a calming breath. Your body associates these shallow breaths with stress and sends messages to your brain that makes your body go into fight or flight. Vertical breathing has been linked to high blood pressure, digestive problems, back pain, and general stress.

How to do it right? Horizontal breathing, on the other hand, uses the muscles in your body that are specifically made for breathing. It’s the abdominal breathing, more commonly known as the diaphragmatic breathing. This allows you to expand out and fill your lungs with air. Take a second and exhale hard, like filling a balloon with helium. Think about your belly button getting closer to your spine and the whole circumference of your middle getting narrower and even your ribs. Now when you inhale, pop your belly, relax your shoulders and take a big meaningful inhale; you’ll notice how good that feels.

Diaphragmatic breathing will give you the most benefits in terms of stress relief and physical benefits. Breathing is a way of naturally healing yourself and it is one of the greatest natural gifts we have. If you do it right you can benefit yourself greatly and keep a lot of health-related issues away. With a little bit of practice and repetition, your breath can become your own natural anti-anxiety mechanism!

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