DIAPHRAGM BREATHING - WHAT IS IT AND WHY?
You've probably heard about how good diaphragmatic (or at least deep) breathing is at some point in time. You are probably already aware that breathing is a fundamental part of you being alive. Of corse, we need to take in oxygen to survive - our brain does that automatically and without us even thinking about it. However, some types of breathing are more beneficial for us than others, and this can have an enormous impact on your health.
Diaphragmatic breathing has been said by many to be one of the easiest, quickest and most profound ways to impact your neurology, specifically your parasympathetic nervous system.
Given that your parasympathetic nervous system (your PNS for short) is a huge player in your ability to rest, digest, relax and repair - it makes sense that this be activated as we require. What we find though, is that too many of us are living life in sympathetic dominance, meaning our 'fight - flight' system is activated all too often, and this over-rides this PNS system. In this situation, stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are constantly released and over time they rule the roost.
Commonly this is because of our perception of urgency and pressure, or certain foods/substances and drinks that don't serve us, and the consequence of living this way can have devastating effects on our health.
Diaphragmatic breathing is thought to be the only way that we are consciously aware of to activate our PNS.
OUR TIPS FOR PERFORMING DIAPHRAGMATIC BREATHS:
- make sure your tummy is relaxed (it should be moving out as you inhale, and in as you exhale)
- fill up your lower tummy with air first, feel the air expanding into this area (sometimes it can be helpful to place your hand on this region)
- slowly concentrate on the air filling up from your lower belly, then to the area where the bottom of rib-cage, then to your upper chest.
- pause gently at the top of the breath, then exhale (going from the top of the chest all the way to the bottom again)
We're pretty big on keeping things simple and easy - so don't worry if you don't have the perfect scented candle / zen music / ambient meditation room / chanting monks in the background! The whole idea is to do this, as much as you can, where-ever you can.
Driving to work, dropping the kids off, while you walk to the water cooler, while waiting for an appointment, at the traffic lights, while having a cup of tea, while sitting on the...... you get the idea.
You really can't do this too often, your body will thank you for it.