Abdominal (BELLY) breathing is one of the simplest, yet most powerful stress management techniques you can perform. Basically, belly breathing can change your life for the better!
Your breathing directly reflects the level of tension you carry in your body. Under stress, your breathing usually becomes shallow and rapid, occurring high in the chest. When relaxed, you breathe more fully, more deeply, and from your abdomen (belly). It’s difficult to be tense and to breathe from your abdomen at the same time.
A newborn child breathes with the abdomen. As the child gets older, breathing becomes partially intercostal ( i.e. chest breathing). During adult life most of us breathe only through the chest. Abdominal breathing is almost forgotten.
The key to natural, diaphragmatic and abdominal (belly) breathing is to begin to learn to sense unnecessary tension in our bodies and to learn how to release this tension. This requires great inner attention and awareness. It requires learning the art of self-sensing and self-observation…that is developing of a mind-body awareness.
To practice abdominal breathing, sit comfortably with your back straight. Always breathe through the nose, which filters warm air. Place your right hand on the chest and your left hand on your belly. This will help you to be aware of your abdominal muscles as you breathe. As you begin to inhale, your left hand on the belly should begin to rise, while your right hand should move very little. Now exhale as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. Once again your left hand should move in as you exhale, while your right hand should move very little. This is abdominal breathing. Breathing through your abdomen will gradually become automatic if you practice it on a regular basis.
Deep, abdominal breathing helps…
* Detoxify inner organs, promote blood flow and peristalsis, and bolster our immunity.
* Increase oxygen supply to the brain and musculature.
* Stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system: Promotes a state of calmness.
* More efficient excretion of bodily toxins.
* Improved concentration.
* Greater feelings of connectedness between mind and body. Anxiety and worry tend to keep you “up in your head.” A few minutes of deep abdominal breathing will help bring you down into your whole body.