Stress Buster – Diaphragmatic Breathing

“If you know the art of breathing you have the strength, wisdom and courage of ten tigers”

Asian Adage 

Diaphragmatic breathing (controlled deep breathing / belly breathing) is a great way to relax and very easy to incorporate into our daily life, as breathing is something we do automatically! This type of breathing is centered in the lower abdomen rather than the thoracic cavity – creating less sympathetic neural activity – causing a greater relaxation effect. In yoga practices it is known as panorama –the restoration of one’s life force/ energy.

Combined with other relaxation techniques ( muscular relaxation , autogenic training & mental imagery ) it’s a powerful way to aid in the treatment of pain, re group one ‘s thoughts & face life’s challenges & tasks with calm, focused energy.

This type of breathing is best done through the nasal passages as it’s easier to regulate airflow. Four phases  : Inspiration : Slight Pause before exhaling : Exhalation : Slight pause before next inhalation .

The truth (unfortunately) is that most of us are shallow breathers. This is a problem because shallow breathing leads to poor oxygenation of our blood (breathing oxygenates every cell of our body). Poor oxygenation means that our body is not able to function optimally – everything from our muscles to our metabolism. Therefore, the easiest way to get more oxygen into your body and in every cell of your body is… to breathe properly! Proper breathing dramatically increases exercise endurance and mental clarity, elevates your mood, and helps the body detoxify more efficiently.

Diaphragmatic breathing is a completely different way to get oxygen to your cells from a physiological standpoint.  This breathing is deep; it causes your belly to push out rather than your chest to rise up. This breath is accomplished primarily by the contraction of your diaphragm, a muscular umbrella at the bottom of your ribcage that separates your chest and abdomen – it pulls air in and gently massages your internal organs in a rhythmic way.  This is the way children breath, and it’s how we were meant to breath pretty much all of the time.  This triggers the parasympathetic nervous system  for rest and repair.

Here’s how to get started with diaphragmatic breathing:

1. Assume Proper Posture: Stand (or sit up) straight and drop your shoulders back and down. 

2. Inhale slowly through your nose trying to get the air down as far as possible into your belly.  (Your belly will push out, that is normal).

3. Pause for a second or less.

4. Exhale slowly through nose (This should last twice as along as inhalation).

5. Repeat 5-10 times.

6. Ideally you should do this every hour – wherever you are ! Even better if you are outdoors enjoying nature  – beach, garden, mountains…love it ! 



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