Breath­ing: You’re do­ing it wrong

The Hamilton Spectator - - HEALTH - CHICAGO TRI­BUNE

Much has been taught in the realm of re­lax­ation around tak­ing deep breaths. But how much do we think about end­ing a breath well?

The ex­hale is the most im­por­tant part, says Belisa Vranich, au­thor of “Breathe: The Sim­ple, Rev­o­lu­tion­ary 14-Day Pro­gram to Im­prove Your Men­tal and Phys­i­cal Health.” Her book fo­cuses on how teach­ing your body to breathe bet­ter can im­prove health.

Many peo­ple don’t breathe cor­rectly, said Vranich.

“Start with the ex­hale when you’re think­ing about your breath­ing,” she said.

Of­ten, when peo­ple are stressed, they don’t breathe mind­fully. In fact, they can stop breath­ing al­to­gether. “It’s a re­ac­tion to fear and stress,” Vranich said. “We have this ob­ses­sion with the in­hale. You can’t in­hale well un­less you’ve ex­haled well.”

Here’s how to be­come a pro. Ex­hale the en­tire way out. Ac­ti­vate the en­tire mid­dle self of your body; you should feel the area around your ribs nar­row­ing.

“You should feel like your en­tire mid­dle is be­ing wrung out,” she said.

Most peo­ple haven’t ex­haled deeply enough re­cently to get rid of stale air.

“Their next in­hale is re­ally bad, be­cause you end up al­ways try­ing to gasp for air and try­ing to fill up,” she said. “You’ve never ac­tu­ally dumped all of the air out.”

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