Reclaiming Your Breath with Dr. Belisa- EP048

 In Podcast

“[People] are empowered, and that’s exactly why I love doing what I do is because you have everything you need to get yourself to feel better… Breathing is something that’s yours, and we’ve forgotten that. We’ve forgotten how powerful it can be. We’ve forgotten how to do it right.”




Dr. Belisa Vranich is the Director of Breathing Science at the Ash Center for Comprehensive Medicine in New York City. Dr. Belisa began her career as a clinical psychologist with the intention of having a long-standing therapy practice. As she explored different methods of reducing stress, Dr. Belisa developed an interest in yoga breathing and martial arts-based breathing techniques. The result of her study is The Breathing Class, a practical, science-based method that addresses the physical and psychological problems related to ‘bad breath.’

Dr. Belisa is also a sought-after public speaker and the author of Breathe: The Simple, Revolutionary 14-Day Program to Improve your Mental and Physical Health. A regular guest on platforms like CNN, the Today Show and Good Morning America, Dr. Belisa joins us today to share the right way to breathe, explaining how we start out breathing correctly and later adopt the stress breath that works against our body design. She discusses her science-based approach to improved breathing, the classic studies around breathing muscle strength, and the different breathing strategies she recommends for precision versus power sports. Listen in for Dr. Belisa’s insight on the benefits of horizontal breath for athletes in terms of endurance and recovery!

Topics Covered

[1:01] How Dr. Belisa’s background in clinical psychology led to the study of breathing

  • Studied psychology to have therapy practice
  • Breathing affects us physically and mentally
  • Looking for ways to reduce stress
  • Breathing practices in yoga, martial arts
  • Developed science-based, practical method
  • Use right muscles to breathe efficiently

 [4:06] How breathing impacts performance and long-term health

  • Achieve elusive parasympathetic state
  • Move faster/longer, lift more and recover better
[4:56] How most people breathe incorrectly

  • Stress breath, contrary to body design
  • Utilize shoulders for deep breath
  • Uses auxiliary muscles, underutilizes diaphragm
[6:52] How toddlers breathe correctly

  • Unabashedly let belly grow (expand, narrow in middle)
  • No posturing, stiffness in torso
[7:59] The percentage of the population with breathing problems

  • Belisa estimates 95%
  • Measured with Breathing IQ (BIQ)
  • Evaluates location, range of motion
  • Bigger inhale, smaller exhale = better breath
[9:28] The first steps to better breath

  • Can be done in 14 days
  • Lie on back with something on belly (e.g.: book)
  • Push object away on inhale to engage diaphragm
  • Apply expansion, narrowing when sitting/standing
  • Tempo will naturally slow down
  • Five count in and out resonates with heartrate variability
[14:55] Dr. Belisa’s take on why we breathe the way we do

  • Bracing in middle prevalent, hurting our health
  • Society of sitting, stress and technology
[17:52] How a breathing practice can benefit endurance athletes

  • Improves endurance (lower body breath takes less energy)
  • Aids recovery (oxygenates, heals muscles)
[20:30] What a breathing practice looks like

  • Exercises, stretches using horizontal breath
  • Train breathing muscles (nothing else)
[21:38] The research around athletic performance and breathing

  • Classic studies on breathing muscle strength by Alison McConnell
  • Work around endurance in cycling, swimming
[23:44] The differences in breathing technique by sport

  • Power lifter needs big, deep breath for explosiveness, to protect spine
  • Extend ‘sweet spot’ in exhale when heartrate low in precision sports like golf
[25:12] The Breathing IQ measurement

  • Aim for breath as expansive, narrow as possible
  • As grade improves, so does health
  • Impacts stress, digestion, back pain, sleep, anxiety
[28:31] How proper breathing can extend an athlete’s career

  • Keeps muscles strong, improves recovery
[30:22] How proper breathing influences endurance

  • Better results in performance almost immediately
  • Endurance skyrockets with continued practice
  • Untapped potential in breathing muscles
[32:00] Dr. Belisa’s insight on the Wim Hoff Method

  • Teaches trance breathing, ice baths
  • Safe practice in extreme temperatures for resilience
[34:44] The individual nature of a breathing practice

  • Every experience very personal, positive
  • Known to resolve issues like brain fog, asthma
[38:58] How to help your child maintain proper breathing

  • Model appropriate breath behavior

Learn More About Dr. Belisa

The Breathing Class

Warrior Workshop

Teacher Training

Breathe Master Class

Dr. Belisa on Instagram

Dr. Belisa on Twitter

Dr. Belisa on Facebook

Breathe: The Simple, Revolutionary 14-Day Program to Improve Your Mental and Physical Health  by Dr. Belisa Vranich


Alison McConnell’s Website

Research by Alison McConnell

Wim Hoff Breathing Method

Holotropic Breathwork by Stanislav and Christina Grof

Jeremy Youst

Jim Morningstar

David Elliott

Dan Brulé




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