Breathing is a no-brainer. We all do it, day in and day out. Yet, there is more to it. As a yoga instructor and mental health therapist, I have taught people to breathe for over twenty years. Diaphragmatic breathing activates the vagus nerve which is important.
The breath is essential to the medial woman, not just for the life it gives, but for the balance we seek; breath grounds us in being – bridging mind, body, and soul.
“Being aware of your breath forces you into the present moment-the key to all inner transformation.” Eckart Tolle
There are different breathing practices. For example, I use Ujjayi breathing to lead me in my daily meditation practice—the restriction creating focus. Today, we will look at diaphragmatic breathing, which modulates the nervous, respiratory, brain, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal systems, according to the journal Medicines.
Using your diaphragm activates the vagus nerve. Stephen Porge’s Polyvagal Theory has made the vagus nerve a current superstar. The vagus nerve triggers the body’s relaxation or parasympathetic nervous system and decreases the body’s stress response or sympathetic nervous system.
Diaphragmatic breathing is easy, fast, and effective
Diaphragmatic breathing is easy, fast, and effective for managing dysregulation, gut distress, depression, anxiety, lowering blood pressure and heart rate, decreasing cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the body, and easing panic attacks.
Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing or deep breathing, is a breathing technique that involves the contraction and relaxation of the diaphragm muscle. The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle located at the base of the lungs and plays a crucial role in breathing.
During diaphragmatic breathing, the diaphragm muscle contracts, pulling downward and expanding the lungs to allow more air to enter. This causes the belly to expand outward as the lungs fill with air. When exhaling, the diaphragm muscle relaxes, moving upward and pushing air out of the lungs. This causes the belly to deflate as the air is released.
Diaphragmatic breathing is considered to be a more efficient and effective way of breathing compared to shallow breathing, which involves breathing primarily from the chest.
To practice diaphragmatic breathing, find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Inhale slowly through your nose, filling your belly with air and allowing your chest to remain still. Exhale slowly through your mouth, allowing your belly to deflate. Repeat this process for several minutes, focusing on the sensation of the air moving in and out of your body.