Most of us are aware of the activities and lifestyle changes we can do to improve our health – exercise regularly, diet and nutrition, meditation, etc. What most people haven’t heard about are the benefits of breathing – and not just your everyday natural mindless breathing – but a type of breathing that’s called Diaphragmatic Breathing. This technique is very different and can provide numerous benefits to your mental and physical health. It takes very little time, can be done almost anywhere, and the benefits can be great for those that practice regularly.
Diaphragmatic Breathing, also known as Belly Breathing, involves inhaling slowly and steadily through your nose for approximately 6 seconds, allowing your abdomen to expand and fill with air before filling the upper lungs in the chest. The diaphragm is a large muscle located between the chest and the abdomen. The chest expands very little if at all while stomach breathing, while the abdominal area expands significantly. Abdominal breathing allows for deeper, fuller breaths while chest breathing is typically shorter and shallower.
At first, this may sound odd as we are so used to breathing primarily with our chest. But breathing this way was not always natural at one point in our lives. As infants and children, we belly breathed naturally. You can watch many young children breathe this way. But unfortunately, as we grow older, we lose this form. During adulthood, we tend to take short shallow breaths and hold it in when we’re anxious or stressed. This type of breathing can have many negative effects on our body, one of which is neck pain and lower back pain. If we take short shallow breathes the muscles in the neck and upper back overwork and become pain and tight. Research has shown the benefits of belly breathing, and the results are nothing less than amazing.