How to breathe | Belisa Vranich | TEDxManhattanBeach


Translator: Tijana Mihajlović
Reviewer: Peter van de Ven Take a deep breath. Yes, right now. Come up from the back of your seat. Sit up straight and take
a big inhale, fill all the way up, and then exhale. Deep breath in and exhale all the way out. Now, do you feel like you get
a little bit taller on the inhale? Yeah? How you get taller and stretch upwards and on the exhale sort of settle down? Because I’m seeing it. Well, if you do, you’re what I call
“a vertical breather.” And unfortunately, it’s an anatomically
incongruous way to breathe, meaning that you’re breathing
out of sync with your body. However, nine out of ten people
breathe this way. So, here’s what happens
when you breathe vertically. First thing that happens is that you
overuse your neck and shoulder muscles. You see, your neck and shoulder muscles
were never meant to be breathing muscles. So, even though it’s a small movement, you’re doing it thousands of times a day, millions of times a year, year after year. So, if you have neck and shoulder pain – just a little, right – you can blame the car,
you can blame the computer, but first and foremost
blame your breathing. Second thing is that you’re only using
the top part of your lungs. Where’s the biggest,
most oxygen-rich part of your lungs? Right down here. Take your hands. Put them there. There we go. Right down here.
The biggest, densest part of your lungs. Do you use these
when you breathe vertically? No. So, you actually have to take
several smaller breaths, that is breathe faster
to get the air that you need. Now, here’s what’s most fascinating
for me as a psychologist: the vagus nerve is a nerve
that goes to the back of your head and goes throughout your whole body. “Vagus” means “wanderer” in Latin. And it does; it wanders
throughout your whole body, picking up signals
to tell your brain how to feel. Now, when you’re breathing vertically, the vagus nerve automatically puts you into a stressed out
fight-or-flight mode. And it doesn’t matter what’s going on
in your surroundings – they could be perfectly mundane routine – you’re going to be in a fight-or-flight. So, this connection to stress
is what got me interested in the breath. I woke up one fall several years ago
with a dull, throbbing pain in my jaw. And I found myself
at the dentist’s office, hearing those five words
you never want to hear, “Do you have dental insurance?” (Laughter) I didn’t. And being a compulsive type A,
I wasn’t just grinding my teeth; I was pulverizing them. So, thousands of dollars later, I came to the conclusion
that I was not controlling my stress; it was controlling me. It was time for a change. I started by signing up for a yoga class, where we would do breathing exercises
at the beginning of class. I heard words like kapalabhati, ujjayi. We would breathe
through one nostril, then the other; we would do breath holds. I was intrigued. I dove in headfirst. I took every class I could find,
read every book, studied every academic article. I found myself in classes
with gong baths and chakra balancing. I read articles about cellular respiration
and rates of oxygen exchange. I studied breathing in birthing, freediving, singing, and martial arts. What was most alarming to me
was when I looked around, almost everyone I knew
wasn’t breathing correctly. And I knew – the medical research said – that breath affects your sleep, your back, your digestion, your memory, anxiety; all these different things. It affects parts of our body
that you’d never even consider, like esophagus and your pelvic floor. It wreaks havoc
throughout your whole body. It affects your immune system,
your adrenal glands, acidity. So, I formalized what I was learning
into a method and started teaching. Now, who do you think
were the first people that called me? Was it members of the wellness community? Was it New-Age folks? Uh-uh. SWAT, Homeland Security, DEA, Border Patrol, Military and Law Enforcement. We know the importance of the breath. Ancient yogis say we come into this world
with a certain number of breaths, and we can take them quickly
and live a short lifespan, or we can take them deeply and slowly
and live a long lifespan. 4,000 years later, fast forward, the Framingham study found that breathing is predictive of longevity
in a quantitative way, longevity and health. So, I know what you’re thinking. “I’m breathing wrong? How could this be?” Well, relax, it’s not all your fault. Sometime between the ages of five and ten,
your breathing changes from a lower-body breath
to an upper-body breath. And it happens because of several things. Number one is that you go to school
and you start sitting a lot. And sitting affects your posture,
which affects your breath. You go to the doctor;
the stethoscope goes here. They say, “Take a deep breath,” and you think, “Hm, my lungs
must be up here.” Someone pokes you in the belly
and calls you fatty, and hence starts years,
even decades of gut sucking. So even now, as an adult,
you’re sucking it in because you’re thinking
it makes you look thinner, because it’s an emotional
response to fear, because it’s a bracing stance that helps you feel prepared
to run or to strike. Because you believe the myth that tensing your abs
makes your core stronger. But the breath has no choice
but to rise to the top of your body, become vertical, and stay there. So, what should you do? Look no further than your toddler,
your dog, your cat, even your fish. They breathe expanding and contracting
in the middle, using the diaphragm. Now, much of the confusion
around breathing occurs because we don’t really
understand the diaphragm. It’s a muscle deep inside; it’s depicted as this little red line
that crosses the body, when actually it’s much more
like the Starship Enterprise, this enormous muscle
in the very middle of your body, separating your thoracic cavity
from your digestive organs. And the only reason it was put there
was to help you breathe, if you let it. So, let’s get intimate with the diaphragm. Right now, really. Take your fingers. Put them right here,
at your sternum. Okay? Walk them around the bottom of your ribs. Go! Keep walking. There we go. Now, your ribs are attached
to your sternum like handles on a pail. On the inhale, they’re meant
to move out horizontally, and on the exhale,
they narrow with your body. What a beautiful machine the body is. But maybe it’s time that we revisit
this cornerstone of our health, especially now when the narrow screens
of the computer or handhelds result in us sipping in
tiny amounts of air; little inhales and little exhales
or sometimes none at all. Alright, let’s fix this. Come up from the back of your seat. Come on up. Scooch up to the front
of your chair. Alright. We’re going to do a breathing exercise. This is called Rock and Roll. You’re going to put
your hands on your belly. We’re going to do the exaggerated version until your diaphragm starts to kick in,
starts to get engaged. So, you might get
a little bit lightheaded. Enjoy it. Alright? (Laughter) So, I want you to tip forward,
inhale, let your belly go. Ready? Tip forward, inhale, let it go, expand,
exhale, squeeze, round your back. Belly button gets closer to your spine. Use your abs. Inhale, tip forward, let your belly go. Expand it. Exhale, squeeze; get all that air out. Round your shoulders;
they have nothing to do with this. Big inhale, expand. Exhale, squeeze. Forwards and back. You’re now breathing horizontally. We’re going to do a breathing exercise. It’s a Counting Breath.
It comes from the military. It’s my favorite one.
It’s called Tactical Breath. So, you’re going
to inhale for four, hold for four, exhale for six, hold for two. We’re going to do it together.
Ready? Okay. Inhale – two, three, four – hold – two, three, four – exhale – two, three, four, five, six – hold – two. Inhale – two, three, four – hold – two, three, four – exhale – two, three, four, five, six – hold – two. Inhale – two, three, four – hold – two, three, four – exhale – two, three, four, five, six – hold – two. Close your eyes – two, three, four – hold – two, three, four – exhale – two, three, four, five, six – hold – two. Tip forward. Inhale and continue on your own with a beautiful, anatomically congruous
lower-body horizontal breath. Thank you. (Applause)


100 Responses

  1. Mark de Mello

    August 2, 2018 11:47 am

    Breathing is like posture. Most humans take it for granted. But breathing is the most essential process. You can live weeks without food, days without liquid, and only minutes without air. Wake up! Take care of breathing and everything else becomes easier.

    Great job, Belisa!

  2. Matt A

    September 21, 2018 12:04 am

    I was taught this from a choir teacher in primary school, 3 singing coaches in career and an opera singer. I also deep cycle breath (belly breath) just as illustrated on every rep when I'm working out in the gym. Out on the initial lift and in when putting the weight down. Maximising the oxygen intake on the most difficult part of the lift, which is putting it down. I've found it difficult to show people how to do this. My singing teachers said push down when inhaling and singing higher pitched notes. It can be difficult at first but has many benefits. It is awesome!

  3. JohnKing

    October 12, 2018 11:01 pm

    Rickson Gracie. Watch his the documentary of his Japan 8 man tournament in the 90s, "Choke" (its on youtube), its amazing, and it shows him training on diaphragmatic breathing to fight better

  4. David Lindstrom

    October 14, 2018 4:08 am

    I'm 75 years old I run in this and every day for two hours you have to learn with conviction three like you really mean it you have to learn how to oxygenate learn how to run in the sand and you'll learn how to actually breathe aloha

  5. David Lindstrom

    October 14, 2018 4:11 am

    you want to learn how to breathe learn how to run in the sand building in your backyard to Figure 8 and then attached to feet wide 8 inches deep dig out the dirt by the Sea and poured into the trench get a stick put it behind your back and running this and every day for 2 hours my resting heart rates 47

  6. Corrie Mathiowetz

    October 29, 2018 11:57 am

    All these things she describes are yoga breathing patterns, even the counting pattern is from yoga traditions, even if military has adopted it. Your ability to breathe is important, her instructions were slightly odd with the whole idea of tipping forward, she stated that it was exaggerated, however didn't go into what would actually be natural. I highly recommend people work with yoga teachers with at least 500hours of training in yoga, or better yet, yoga therapist as the complexities and nuances of breathing vary from person to person. It's the best thing you could ever do for your physical, mental and emotional health, and if you suffer anxiety or depression it could radically change your life for the better.

  7. Christopher Mattheys

    October 31, 2018 2:46 pm

    I feel so thankful to have seen this. It's actually life changing! This is something everyone should know about. So awesome when a professional can lay it all out in simple steps and logical reasoning.

  8. theonedom Gaming

    November 23, 2018 6:22 am

    Can I do this exercise in bed?
    I have a pretty serious Copd condition can I do anything to improve my mobility?
    Thanks and don’t worry if you need say no

  9. andrew koharchik

    December 15, 2018 3:52 am

    I tried the military breathing pattern am I supposed to have chest pains and dizziness when I do this ?

  10. roy ratcliff

    January 2, 2019 2:55 pm

    Arnold used to do this in the 70s when he was training he called it vacuuming so your a bit slow on the up take.

  11. Anurag Sharma

    January 22, 2019 5:08 pm

    Sorry but totally wrong technique, in diaphragmic or abdominal breathing one should not use the abdominal muscles. For deep understanding of breathing one should learn yoga properly by a true master of yoga, you'll find many in India.

  12. DharmaOfDog

    February 13, 2019 8:36 pm

    After thousands of years knowing the Wisdom of Breath, SO happy to hear that Westerners are finally accepting it. (but it always strikes me funny that "Scientists" here in the U.S. submit an article to The NYTimes stating it in such a way making it appear that they've discovered something new)

  13. Monkey Matt

    March 9, 2019 10:10 pm

    Quite the breathe, slow and shallow through the nose. Notice your mouth begin to salivate, body temp increase, digestion kicking in and alertness increase. This is the parasympathetic nervous system. Look into Dr Buteyko

  14. Jano James

    March 29, 2019 6:56 pm

    I cannot comprehend with you, A thing we do 72 times a minute from birth
    to death you are implementing science you discovered. Its involuntary
    action for our existance you cannot control that or remember to follow
    the way u guys say how u should breath. This should be banned because of
    consequence and following stress and depression which may follow. your
    body will take the air it needs you dont have to help your lungs or
    regulate which compromises with the natural wiring of our system based
    on the configuration of your body structure. Unless you have asthma or
    lung or heart disorders which require treatment.Dont encourage what you
    believe is true to others in a stage like this.Even a pulnonologist dont
    recoment this methods.Your false doctrine needs to be stopped practiced
    in a time when people didnt know the respiratory system. You guys
    connect this with tradition and God to sell which is absurd.

  15. jiah comen

    April 15, 2019 9:13 pm

    Inhale Let, exhale Go…Total BS. My toddler's musculature isn't developed, hence the belly, and no one calls her 'fatty'. Ugh. My fish's core isn't even a consideration. Vertical Breathing is helpful to lengthen the spine whilst softening shoulders & jaws. So she's an expert? What "scientist" states we were born with a certain number of breaths? Lay on your back and do belly breaths when the spine is supported, let the diaphragm expand, only laying posteriorly. Ted Talks sometimes is a forum to sell some short-lived new age theory. Sigh. Charlatan.

  16. Paula Hutchinson

    April 17, 2019 9:57 pm

    I've seen the first two types of breathing before, but not the 3rd, I must say it really did feel great and I felt a noticeable calm after. Video is nicely done and calming to watch as well, thank you!

  17. Leonard van Biljouw

    April 28, 2019 1:13 pm

    Next time on the loo try to press and breath deep. You can't. That's because deep breathing is done by lifting the ribs and you cant contract the diaphragm, that is attached to the ribs, and at the same time lift your ribs. So, deep breathing is done with the rib lifters: Lavatores costarum, External intercostals and the Scalene muscles. (BTW, NOT lifting the shoulders). And, btw, we know a lot about the diaphragm.2. We yawn to relax the muscles. In reverse, when we massage a muscle and it relaxes we breath alleviated. So, we can use deep breathing to relax. Nothing mystic about it.3. Correct deep breathing requires a simple exercise: climb 4 flight of stairs and you will start to pant. Most probably you do that freely, because involuntarily. Remember that feeling for the next time you breath deep voluntarily.4. To strengthen your inhaling muscles, regularly climb stairs.

  18. chandraguptawillruletheworld xx

    May 2, 2019 5:51 pm

    stop saying breathing …it is pranayama which has been practised for 1000 s of years in India

  19. pallavanimator

    May 11, 2019 10:52 pm

    This video should have more than a billion views…I also feel that I am not breathing properly

  20. Debasish Burman

    May 13, 2019 9:09 am

    Madam can i practice this technic anytime during the day? Can i do this after meal?

  21. Vegan Earthling

    May 24, 2019 12:06 pm

    Awesome content. The clothing was taking me out of it. Attractive looking woman with a horrible taste in clothing. Packaging is important when you are working is a visual communications medium. Get a stylist.

  22. kym me

    June 11, 2019 6:45 pm

    I actually remember being "taught " to breath "correctly" from the back of the lungs in high school…….. programming at its greatest! THANK YOU 💌

  23. lyco46

    June 27, 2019 5:58 am

    You don’t need to know how to breathe ffs

    God does it for you

    How to breath lol

    How do you create insulin ?????


    God does it for you

  24. Lawrence Smith

    July 1, 2019 8:00 pm

    This could not be more wrong! Search Lawrence Smith Breathing and the Alexander Technique for some diagrams of the phreno pericardial ligament and the muscles that have evolved to lift the ribs and broaden the thoracic cage in inspiration. In all mammals, the spine lengthens on inhalation, drawing up the dome of the diaphragm so that it may lift the ribs.

  25. Lawrence Smith

    July 1, 2019 8:04 pm

    You don't really understand the diaphragm, which is attached to the upper spine via the phreno pericaridal ligament. The diaphragm is one of the muscles that lifts the ribs in respiration. Lawrence Smith Breathing and the Alexander Technique.

  26. makr

    July 25, 2019 8:47 pm

    niggas out here makin 10 minute videos telling me how to b r e a t h e like i aint been doin it all my life

  27. Martynas Cepauskas

    August 2, 2019 6:04 am

    I got into a bit of trouble with breathing lately, while relaxed however breathing really pasively my heart palpitates much stronger first time while breathing in or out, sometimes even give me chills.. this never happens during any activities or work, only when I am laying relaxed.. gives me trouble falling asleep, did anyone had something like this ?

  28. Anthony Salatino

    August 5, 2019 2:46 pm

    This was very informative but also they're now saying DON"T breathe through your mouth, rather, inhales and exhales are to be done through your nose only. It's not easy but the correct way of daily breathing


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