Inverted Z breathing

Thinking out of the box is great, and so is breathing out of the box. To improve my breathing, I found visualization to be very effective. As an image, I use the shape of the inverted letter Z placed inside my lungs. I visualize the air  I breathe moving along the Z lines instead of moving vertically up and down.

The bottom-horizontal line on the inverted Z represents my diaphragm, the diagonal line represents my ribcage, and the top-horizontal line represents my chest.

There are four imaginary points on the inverted Z line
1. Spine.
2. Navel.
3. Neck (the lower back part).
4. Collarbone.

For the sake of simplicity, the locations of the body parts mentioned are schematic and unrealistic. For example, in reality, my spine doesn’t pass through the center of my diaphragm; it’s eccentric, but for visualizing, I imagine it centered. Likewise, the visualization doesn’t correspond with the air movement in my lungs; it’s a way of imagining air movement.

Visualization of inhaling in 3 parts

  1. I visualize the movement of my diaphragm starting in the center of the bottom Z line (the spine) and expanding like a flat disk in 360⁰ until it reaches my navel.
  2. Next, while inflating my ribcage, I visualize the air filling my lungs in a straight line starting from my navel toward the back of my lower neck (along the diagonal Z line).
  3. Finally, I visualize the air filling my chest as a forward movement on the top horizontal Z line from the lower back of my neck towards my collarbone.

I exhale reversely, visualizing that I’m tracing the top horizontal line and then the diagonal. Finally, when getting to the bottom horizontal line, my diaphragm constricts 360⁰ until it becomes a small flat disc.

The visualization guides me to inflate my chest forward along the top horizontal Z line, not upward towards my nose, as I would instinctively. This way, I don’t fill the very top of my lungs, which may trigger a Fight or Flight reaction. In addition, activating my breathing muscles, according to this visualization, helps me avoid activating my neck and shoulder muscles (secondary breathing muscles).