Breathe Like a Baby!
When asked to take a “deep breath,” people often breathe through their mouth and raise their shoulders, attempting to get as much air into their lungs as possible. However, by breathing in that way, the air is only getting into the upper part of the lungs and is not going “deep down” where the greatest concentration of pulmonary blood resides.
When belly breathing (also known as “diaphragmatic” or “abdominal breathing”), the air is drawn deep down into the lungs, thus optimizing the amount of nitric oxide and carbon dioxide in the bloodstream.
The diaphragm is an umbrella-shaped muscle that extends across the bottom of the thoracic cavity at the base of the lungs. When we take an authentic deep breath, the diaphragm contracts (lowers), pulling the air deep into our lungs where a full oxygen exchange takes place.
As babies, we naturally breathe with our bellies. As we grow older, however, the stresses of our everyday life cause us to gradually shift from belly breathing to chest breathing. Chest breathing can lead to hyperventilation, causing a decrease of carbon dioxide in the body and resulting in a racing heartbeat, panic attacks, headaches, anxiety, and emotional stress.
Diaphragmatic breathing has been shown to reduce one’s heart rate and lower blood pressure. In addition, when the diaphragm moves downward, intra-abdominal pressure is generated. This pressure reduces unnecessary muscular tension around the base of the spine. The more we belly breathe, not only do our minds become calmer, but our spine gains stability as well.
Belly Breathing exercises are located here.