Greeting Barbarians! Long days and pleasant nights!
As the title says, this post is about how to breathe. And no, I am not joking. We all know breathing is crucial to life, if you don’t breathe, you die, plain as that. You inhale then exhale. It is natural as, well, breathing.
But I wish it was that unsophisticated.
I’m sure you are all well aware of my struggles with anxiety. One of the first stuff my therapist taught me is proper breathing techniques. As it turns out, it is not as straightforward as inhaling and exhaling. Stress, poor posture, and pollution played role in inefficient breathing habits.
But what is the inefficient way of breathing? According to Dr. Belisa Vranich, author of the book “Breath”, this is what she calls “vertical breathing”. Vertical breathing is when you are raising your shoulders when you inhale. Going down when you exhale. You may feel like you are taking a full breath but the truth is, you are not using the full capacity of your lungs.
But before we continue, please check out my fundraiser. November marks the last leg of my fundraiser. I’m well aware of the skepticism regarding this fundraiser but, if you could help us, I would surely appreciate it.
Please check out the link for all the details. Thank you!
It has come to my attention the negative reaction some have with the fundraiser. I know, I know, I must be that famous to incite such strong reactions from some of you but this is entirely voluntary. If you want to help, I would appreciate it. If you do not want to, that is all fine by me, but please refrain from going full Karen in the comment section. The good people who have supported me so far do not deserve to be called names. Helping out is their prerogative as much as you have the prerogative to bitch in the comment section.
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Vertical breathing is not dangerous. It is a naturally occurring reaction that kicks in when we are in fight or flight mode. The problem lies when you adapt vertical breathing even in a relaxed state. This leaves you in a perpetual state of stress and anxiety.
What is the correct way to breathe?
I am sure you have figured it out by now. If vertical breathing is the wrong way does that mean that horizontal breathing is the correct way? As uncomplicated as it sounds, the answer is a resounding yes.
What is horizontal breathing?
Horizontal breathing is when you are using your diaphragm when breathing. This means that your belly expands when you inhale and deflates when you exhale. This leaves the shoulder and chest relaxed. This is the way nature intended us to breathe, if you can observe a sleeping baby this is how they breathe. This is how we breathe before stress, poor posture, and pollution got to us.
Try this exercise:
- Lie on the floor face up, try to relax your chest and shoulders
- While keeping your chest and shoulders still, inhale to your belly slowly. If your belly is raising, you are inhaling correctly.
- Now, exhale slowly, if your belly falls, you are exhaling correctly.
- Try to switch to your normal breathing habit and see the difference.
Try it standing up, switch between horizontal breathing and your normal breathing habit.
Poor breathing gives you enough oxygen to live but it does not give you enough to perform at your best. Your body uses oxygen to perform and when you are getting less, it means you are performing at a handicap. Think of it as an engine, a choked-up intake valve means less power. You got to have the right air to fuel ratio for the engine to perform at best. Poor breathing habits have a detrimental impact on your health. It may not kill you in an instant but it can contribute to a lot of health issues in the future.
Benefits of Horizontal Breathing
- Managed stress levels. Proper breathing technique is the first thing my therapist taught me. While a controlled amount of stress is vital to our development, too much can be destructive. Correct breathing patterns can manage a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety. It could ease depression and mood swings.
- Improved focus. You are not functioning at 100% when you are not getting enough oxygen. Improved thinking capacity is one of the perks of getting enough of it. Proper supply of oxygen in the brain could increase your brain performance.
- Reduced risk of Hypertension. Vertical breathing is a naturally occurring reaction when in fight or flight mode. It is synonymous with stressful situations. Adopting an unhealthy breathing habit leaves you in a state of constant stress. This could contribute to hypertension and high blood pressure.
- Elevated energy level. Think of an engine’s air intake valve. If there is not enough air in the air to fuel ratio, the engine cannot produce enough power. More oxygen gives you more power.
Think of it as restoring your self to your default factory settings after years of use. Try to practice horizontal breathing for at least 5-10 minutes before going to sleep. As slow and deep breathing will bring you to a more relaxed state and will lull you to sleep. You will feel more energized, sharper, and more relaxed when you are awake.
Before I end this post, I’d like to thank my friends for their support during this difficult time. You made us believe that we are worth something when people seem to turn their backs on us. I’m so thankful for your friendship and support. I wish this would be over soon. Maraming salamat at mahal ko kayo!
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To courage and freedom, and proper breathing!
Resource: Breathe - Dr. Belisa Vranich
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