Breathe (★★★★☆)

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Belisa Vranich   *   St. Martin’s Griffin   *   December 27, 2016   *   240 Pages

Advanced Reader Copy provided by publisher through Net Galley.

This is a short book with lots of resources–including many step-by-step breathing exercises that honest-to-God make a difference. Vranich’s goal is to help readers relearn how to breathe “by moving the breathing back down to the lower part of your body, where it belongs.” She argues that the best breathing happens from the chest down, but most people breathe shallow breaths that fill only the top of their lungs.

The book helps you fix that. Vranich lays out a “14-day program,” which is really just a handful of breathing exercises repeated for 14 days. Each daily breathing routine takes less than 10 minutes to complete. I felt overwhelmed at first by how many exercises are in here, so, eventually, I decided to pick four inhale exercises to work on and ignore the others (for now).

The Rock n Roll exercise, in particular, has changed the way I breathe, big time. In that exercise you inhale through your mouth while expanding your belly as you lean forward, and then exhale while leaning back like you are slumping on a couch. You do that about 20 times. I find this exercise absolutely freeing, truthfully. I finally realized that my breathing has been shallow because–here the embarrassing truth comes–I’ve been sucking in my stomach to appear skinnier. And I’ve been doing that my whole life, which kind of makes me sad for myself. But now I stick my belly out when I breathe in, and I genuinely feel better. I feel more relaxed. It’s amazing.

In addition to the breathing exercises, Vranich also talks about the harmful effects of shallow breathing, the benefits of good breathing, the importance of good posture, and the necessity of sleep. (I loved when she said that you have to give your body several moments of calm throughout the day if you want to be able to sleep at night–otherwise, your mind will just run, run, run as soon as you put your head on your pillow. I guess that’s probably an obvious point to some, but that was eye-opening for me.) There is also a comprehensive glossary of terms in the back of the book.

Overall, this was a quick and helpful read that gave me fast results. Apparently, breathing is important. You heard it here first.

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