Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as stomach breathing, is a natural breathing technique that we are all born doing once we enter this world.
However, prolonged stress and anxiety cause people to breathe from their chests, this is known as shallow breathing.
Diaphragmatic breathing involves the full use of the diaphragm. Your diaphragm is located right under the ribs and above the stomach.
The act of breathing should push the diaphragm down. This causes the stomach to naturally expand. If you stomach is not expanding when you breathe and you are noticing more chest movement, then these diaphragmatic breathing exercises will help you.
It is important to recognize that with this type of breathing exercise, there is little to no chest movement at all.
Practicing Diaphragmatic Breathing
By practicing diaphragmatic breathing, you will strengthen the diaphragm and promote a relaxed body and mind. You will also be restoring natural breathing to your body.
- Lie comfortably flat on a bed or floor mat.
- Support your head and neck with a comfortable pillow. Support your knees by placing a support under them as well. You can use a small pillow or a rolled up towel.
- Place one hand on your abdomen, right below your ribs, and the other hand on your chest. This is to ensure that you are breathing from the right place. Your focus for this breathing technique will be on your abdomen.
- Breathe deeply in through your nose so that your stomach is pushing up against your hand.
- As you exhale, breathe out through your mouth while you tighten your abdominal muscles so that you feel like you are pulling your belly button into your back.
- Repeat this method for approx. 10-20 minutes, a few times each day.
Diaphragmatic exercises can be done while sitting up only after you have practiced enough to understand how to do it properly.
This exercise can be done by itself or in conjunction with your relaxation exercises, such as progressive muscle relaxation, isometric exercises and meditations.
Video Example of Diaphragmatic Breathing
This video shows an example of diaphragmatic breathing, however, this demonstration is done in a yoga class. Remember, Yoga has a lot to offer the mind and body. You don't have to participate in the spiritual teachings of this Mind Body System. Instead, you can use the same movements while applying your own spiritual beliefs. The video below is used for demonstrational purposes only.