by Alison Bowen | Chicago Tribune Reporter
May 8, 2017, 3:20pm
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 (and Breathing Class workshops for athletes, new moms and businesses) 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. "It's also a reaction to being on very tight deadlines and stressed out in front of your computer."
Taking shallow breaths can mean not getting enough air.
"You're holding your breath like you're underwater," she said. "It wreaks havoc on your body and your brain. All of a sudden, you'll realize, or your body will alert you. You'll take a few breaths, and then you'll do it again."
If you find yourself feeling tired throughout the day, this could be the culprit. It's exhausting, Vranich said. "You'll spend your entire day with your body trying to catch up."
Try to think through exhaling throughout the day.
"We have this obsession with the inhale," she said. "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."