Every living being breathes. However, diaphragm breathing is something that is meant to help us use the diaphragm correctly while the breathing process and there are several health benefits of this type of breathing. In this article we will know about some of the techniques and instructions of diaphragmatic breathing, along with some of its benefits.
Diaphragmatic Breathing: An Introduction
Diaphragmatic breathing, is also known as “deep breathing”, “Abdominal breathing” or “Belly breathing”. It is a kind of breathing, where every deep breath goes straight to the lungs and fills the body with enough oxygen. This type of breathing relaxes the muscles and massage the internal organs. It is beneficial for the physical as well as mental health. Diaphragmatic breathing alleviates stress, improve confidence and helps in creating better circulation of the blood.
The diaphragm is the most efficient muscle of breathing. It is a large, dome-shaped muscle that is located at the base of the lungs. Diaphragmatic breathing helps us use the diaphragm correctly while breathing so as to strengthen the diaphragm, reduce the work of breathing by slowing the breathing rate, reducing the oxygen demand and using less effort and energy to breathe.
Now, how does Diaphragmatic Breathing Work? The diaphragm is a large muscle located between the chest and the abdomen. When we breathe in, our diaphragm contracts and moves down, causing our abdomen to expand. With this, a negative pressure is created and air is forced into the lungs.
Diaphragmatic Breathing Techniques And Instructions:
Below we will take a look at some of the diaphragmatic breathing techniques and instructions to follow for doing them:
Check Your Ability To Move The Diaphragm:
Before beginning the diaphragmatic breathing techniques or exercises, it is good to check your ability to move your diaphragm. In order to check your ability to move the diaphragm, lie down on your back, put both your hands on your body and try to push out your lower hand with your abdominal muscles. Evaluate if you can breathe using only your belly, so that your rib cage and upper hand do not move.
Diaphragmatic Breathing Technique Using Books On Your Tummy:
For this, take 2-3 medium weight books and lie down on your back with the books kept on your tummy. Now, focus on your breathing and change the way you breathe, so that you can lift the books up about 1 inch with each inhalation and then relax to exhale. You can see the books going down when you relax to exhale. Also note that your rib cage does not expand during inhalation.
You need to repeat this diaphragmatic breathing exercise for at least 5 minutes, before your main breathing, exercises to reconnect your conscious brain with your diaphragm. You can practice this diaphragm technique for some days, until you are sure that this diaphragmatic breathing is your usual way to breathe during the breathing sessions.
Diaphragmatic Breathing Using A Belt:
One more technique of performing diaphragmatic breathing is by using a strong belt to restrict your rib cage and force the diaphragm to be the main breathing muscle.
For doing this, you need to put a belt around your lower ribs or in the middle of the trunk and tightly buckle it, so that you cannot take a deep inhalation using your rib cage or your chest. Your body requires to use your abdomen for slow and deep inhalations. So, try it, While leaving the belt in place for some minutes or few hours, you can acquire diaphragmatic breathing and corresponding sensations.
Diaphragmatic Breathing Technique While Sitting On A Chair:
You can also practice diaphragmatic breathing while sitting on a chair. For this, you need to sit comfortably on the chair, with your knees bent and your head, shoulders and neck relaxed. Keep your one hand on your upper chest and the other hand just below the rib cage. This will allow you to feel your diaphragm move, as you breathe. Now, breathe in slowly via your nose so that your tummy moves out against your hand. Make sure that the hand on your chest remains as still as possible. Tighten your stomach muscles, that lets them fall inward as you exhale. Keep it noted that the hand on your upper chest must remain as still as possible.
How Often Should You Practice Diaphragm Breathing?
Practice diaphragmatic breathing at least 5-10 minutes at first, for about 3-4 times in a day. You can gradually increase the amount of time you spend doing this type of breathing exercise
Benefits: How Does Diaphragmatic Breathing Help?
There are several benefits of diaphragmatic breathing when done properly. Below are some of them.
Detoxification Benefits of Diaphragmatic Breathing:
Our body deals with a lot of toxins; everything from air pollution, to everyday foods, contaminated water and much more. Breathing is the body’s way of releasing those toxins and it purifies the body’s systems. Our body is less efficient at releasing toxins, when we do not take deep breaths. This in turn makes the other systems in the body overloaded as they work to detoxify the body, often resulting in illnesses. When we inhale and exhale deeply, carbon dioxide along with other toxins are released from our body.
Diaphragmatic Breathing Makes You Feel Energized:
One of the best benefits of diaphragmatic breathing is that it helps us in feeling energized. More air is drawn into our lungs when we take deep breaths. Since our lungs help generate maximum blood flow, proper supply of air to the lungs is critical. Improved oxygenation of the blood, also leads to an enhanced metabolism and greater energy. With the proper oxygen supply, all your organs are revitalized, thus filling you with more energy every day.
Diaphragmatic Breathing Is Beneficial in Calming You Down:
Diaphragmatic breathing also has a calming effect and benefits our mental and emotional health. When we take deep breaths, we stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, that triggers a relaxation response. So, no matter where you are, you can just spend a few minutes of diaphragmatic breathing that will fill your body with oxygen and help you feel calm and relaxed.
Benefits of Diaphragmatic Breathing In Alleviating Anxiety and Stress:
It is known that shallow breathing is linked to anxiety and stress. The key to alleviating anxiety and stress is to take deep breaths or practice diaphragmatic breathing. This fills your body with oxygen, releases tension, and normalizes your heartbeat, creating a feeling of calm. If you suffer from anxiety or panic disorders, diaphragmatic breathing can provide you relief.
Improved Sleep Benefits of Diaphragmatic Breathing:
We all require sound and proper sleep. An adult requires at least 6-7 hours of sleep every night for optimum health. Diaphragmatic breathing enhances better sleep by alleviating stress and triggering the relaxation response. Sleep improves when there is a reduction in the stress level.
Helps In Improving The Function Of The Immune System:
It is known that diaphragmatic breathing or deep breathing strengthens the immune system. It prevents infection of the lungs and also other tissues.
Helps In Improving The Circulatory System:
One more benefit of diaphragmatic breathing is it helps in improving the circulatory system. It benefits the circulatory system by increasing blood circulation and helping with the blood return to the heart.
Helps In Digestion:
The body’s organs, including the digestive system, work more efficiently when the body receives more blood. When the body system is detoxified and energized, it helps in improving, both digestion and appetite. Since our mood is always responsible to a great extent for our digestion and appetite, diaphragmatic breathing or deep breathing helps in promoting better digestive health through relieving stress and anxiety.
Helps In Improving The Cardiovascular Capacity And Heart Health:
Diaphragmatic breathing also benefits in improving the cardiovascular capacity and the heart health. Diaphragmatic breathing when done regularly, enhances your cardiovascular capacity and burns fat easily. If deep breathing is practiced along with exercise, it may result in improved cardiovascular capacity.
Moreover, diaphragmatic breathing also helps in improving your heart health. This is because this type of breathing makes the lungs stronger and promotes oxygenation of the blood and thus reduces the load on your heart over time. This is why, you can notice that your heartbeats slow down when you practice diaphragmatic breathing.
Helps In Regulating Body Weight:
One more wonderful benefit of diaphragmatic breathing is that it helps in regulating body weight. If you are underweight, you can try deep breathing. Proper breathing will supply the cells and the tissues with more oxygen. And if you are overweight, the oxygen will help you burn extra fats in the body. When we take shallow breathe, instead of fat, our body ends up burning glycogen. So, it is essential to take deep breaths or practice diaphragmatic breathing.
Works In Pain Relief:
Diaphragmatic breathing also works as a pain relief. When we are in physical pain, our first response to it is to hold our breath. However, it only increases the feeling of pain. So, breathing via the pain is recommended that helps your body relax.
Diaphragm Breathing Is Good For All The Organs:
Diaphragmatic breathing is a great exercise for all the bodily organs. With the movement of the diaphragm, organs like liver, stomach, heart, intestine and pancreas, are massaged, thus improving their function. Moreover, this type of breathing also strengthens and tones the abdominal muscles; which is why diaphragmatic breathing is an essential part of yoga.
Helps In Improving Posture:
There are several studies that have found that incorrect breathing is directly related to incorrect posture. When your posture is not correct, it can be difficult to engage in diaphragmatic breathing. When we practice deep breathing or diaphragmatic breathing, it naturally makes us sit up straight and stand taller. This is because, filling the lungs with enough oxygen, encourages a better posture. You can notice that, while breathing deeply, your spine will be straightened automatically.
By now, we are known to some of the techniques and benefits of diaphragmatic breathing. As this type of breathing is beneficial for the physical, mental as well as emotional health; we must practice this along with a healthy lifestyle; which can improve our quality of life.
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