Breathing is a natural process that usually occurs without conscious effort. However, the breathing you usually do tends to be shallow and doesn’t use your lungs’ total capacity.
Unlike normal breathing, diaphragmatic breathing is an exercise that fully engages the diaphragm and can increase the efficiency of the lungs. Regularly doing this type of breathing exercise can improve your breathing, affecting your overall health. Read on to find out how to do diaphragmatic breathing exercises.
The diaphragm is a large muscle located at the base of the lungs. When you inhale, your diaphragm contracts and moves downward, creating space for your lungs to expand and fill with air. Then, when you exhale, the diaphragm relaxes and moves upward, which helps expel air from the lungs.
Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as abdominal breathing, fully engages the stomach, abdominal muscles, and diaphragm while breathing. It means that you are actively pulling your diaphragm down with each breath. In this way, diaphragmatic breathing helps the lungs fill more efficiently.
You usually do it subconsciously when you breathe daily and don’t involve your diaphragm too much. Meanwhile, during diaphragmatic breathing, you will use your diaphragm consciously to take deeper breaths. You will see your stomach rise and fall and feel a rising or stretching sensation in your stomach, not just your chest and shoulders.
Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercise Technique
There are various forms of diaphragmatic breathing, but the simplest form is essential diaphragmatic breathing. You can do this by breathing in a lying or sitting position.
Lying Diaphragmatic Breathing
For those learning the diaphragmatic breathing technique for the first time, doing it in a lying position may be more accessible. Here’s how to do it:
- Lie on a flat surface or in bed, and place a pillow under your head and knees. Pads will help keep your body in a comfortable position.
- Place one hand in the centre of the upper chest and the other just below the ribs. That way, you can feel your diaphragm moving when you breathe.
- Then, breathe in slowly through your nose so that your stomach moves up, pushing your hands while your hands on your chest should remain still.
- When you want to exhale, tighten your abdominal muscles and let your stomach drop down while exhaling through pursed lips. Again, the chest should remain still.
- It would be best to do this breathing exercise for 5-10 minutes, about 3-4 times daily.
Sitting Diaphragm Breathing
Once you are familiar with the diaphragmatic breathing technique lying down as above, you may want to start trying breathing while sitting in a chair. The method is almost the same as the diaphragmatic breathing technique in a lying position; only you do it while sitting in a chair. When doing diaphragmatic breathing exercises in this position, make sure you keep your shoulders, head, and neck relaxed.
Benefits of Breathing with the Diaphragm
Diaphragmatic breathing helps you use your diaphragm fully when you breathe. It can provide some health benefits, including:
- Strengthens the diaphragm.
- Increases stability in core muscles.
- It makes the body more relaxed.
- Lowers heart rate and blood pressure.
- Reduces oxygen demand.
That’s the diaphragmatic breathing technique that can improve your lung function.