Lateral breathing is when you direct the air coming into the lungs towards the sides and the back of the ribcage. When using this technique, your ribs will expand upward and outward, much like putting a jacket around a coat hanger.
You can start to breath laterally by placing your hands against your lower ribs. Your palms should be in contact with your chest with the fingertips just barely touching each other. At this point, you should start to breath in so that your fingertips pull away from each other and then return as you are exhaling. To help you feel the air rushing to the back of your rib cage, place the hands on the back and facing the lower rib section and try pulling the air in towards your fingers.
The differences may seem subtle at first, but the direction of the airflow and how your chest and belly move are the most noticeable differences when using the lateral breathing technique. Lateral breathing should not move the belly which automatically makes it different compared to belly breathing. Plus, you are pulling the air to the back of the ribs, not the front as with chest breathing.
The differences may seem small at first, but there are definite benefits when you practice lateral breathing and use it during the day.
There are definite advantages when using the lateral breathing technique. The first is that once the technique is learned, you can perform it when needed.
Increased Oxygen Absorption: Because the air is directed towards the lower lobes of your lungs, the oxygen is enhanced in your bloodstream. This means that you will feel more energized, alert, and focused.
Better Mobility of Rib cage: Your ribs are not static, but instead can expand and contract somewhat thanks to the cartilage that is in place. Lateral breathing lets you expand slightly the mobility of the ribcage which in turn offers some healthy stretching and overall better flexibility.