“Doing what comes naturally” … The old song needs a little help when it comes to breathing. We all breathe, but we don’t all do it right, for the most benefit to our body and mind. When I’ve searched the Internet for exercise and medication techniques, just about every one of the sites points out the importance of DEEP BREATHING, saying most people only breathe shallowly. The following article tells how to BREATHE DEEPLY and what benefits we get from it. When I’m stressed about anything or can’t get to sleep, I start to breathe deeply and, like a miracle, I relax and feel the breaths healing me and when sleep seems impossible, I fall asleep. The simple act of DEEP BREATHING may be one of the best things we can do for ourself, and it is especially important while practicing any of the techniques of TMS healing. Diaphragmatic Breathing Pump up your breath with diaphragmatic breathing. Fuel your cells with life giving oxygen and enrich your life with these simple exercises. Diaphragmatic breathing is the natural way to breathe. You were born breathing diaphragmatically. Have you ever watched a baby breathe? A baby’s stomach moves with each breath. This movement of the stomach is due to a thin dome of muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdomen—the diaphragm. At the start of each breath, the diaphragm contracts and flattens out. This pulls the chest cavity down pulling air into the lungs. While this action makes more space for the lungs it causes the abdomen to rise. When the diaphragm and chest relax the air naturally moves out. And… the cycle repeats. Because the lungs have more space in which to expand, a diaphragmatic breath gives you more air, more oxygen. More air and oxygen better supports all the vital processes of your body. It helps fuel your cells to create more energy and vitality. It enhances health and your natural healing. Why Don’t Adults Naturally Use Diaphragmatic Breathing? Many of us have lost connection with this natural-born way of breathing because of the effects of stress or being taught we should hold our stomachs in. When stressed, tense, or anxious your breathing becomes more rapid and shallow. Your abdominal muscles may also get tense interfering with the normal contraction of the diaphragm. Breathing shallow and rapidly causes anxiety. This pattern of anxiety and shallow “chest breathing” can become a self-perpetuating cycle. Especially in western countries, we are taught that it’s good posture and that we look better when our stomach is flat. So… we “suck in” our stomach. A flattened stomach is impossible to maintain if you breathe with your diaphragm. We become “chest breathers,” missing out on the fullness of breath that diaphragmatic breathing brings. This type of breathing especially promotes mind body healing. What’s Your Usual Way of Breathing? Here’s a quick exercise to check how you breathe: 1. Lie down and loosen any restrictive clothing. 2. Take a few minutes to relax, breathing normally. 3. Place one hand on your breastbone and one hand over your belly button. 4. Now, without trying to change anything, just notice what your hands feel as you breathe in and out. What Did You Notice? If you felt your abdomen move up and down with your breathing, you are using diaphragmatic breathing. If you only felt movement in your chest, you are only getting a portion of the air and life giving oxygen you need for optimum health. It goes the other way too. You remove about 70 percent of your body’s waste products when you exhale. So, if you’re using only a portion of your lungs for breathing you're retaining waste products such as carbon dioxide. These waste products build up over time interfering with your body’s normal functioning. Here are some quick and easy exercises to help you relearn diaphragmatic breathing. Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercises While doing these exercises just breathe normally. Sometimes when people focus on their breathing they breathe deeper, and/or more rapid. This can make you feel anxious, dizzy, or light-headed. If this happens to you, just pause the practice until you start breathing normally again and the symptoms disappear. Then begin again. You can do these exercises lying down or sitting: Lying Down 1. Lie down, loosening any restrictive clothing. 2. Place you hands just below your belly button. 3. Close your eyes and imagine a balloon inside your abdomen. 4. Each time you breathe in imagine the balloon filling with air. 5. Feel your abdomen rise as the balloon fills. 6. Each time you breathe out imagine the balloon collapsing. 7. Practice for 4 or more breaths. 8. Take a few moments and notice how you feel. Sitting 1. Sit in a chair and clasp your hands behind your head. 2. Point your elbows out to the side (this locks your chest so you can feel the movement of your abdomen). 3. Breathe normally. 4. Practice for 4 or more breaths. 5. Take a few moments and notice how you feel. Most people feel more relaxed and energized after diaphragmatic breathing. Like anything, it takes practice at first. Practice these exercises 3 to 4 times a day. Many people find a regular schedule works best when they first wake up, before meals, and/or before going to sleep at night. Some report that by doing these simple breathing exercises before eating they find they eat more slowly and eat less food. They lose weight the easy way! It might feel awkward or forced at first, just keep up your practice. Before long you’ll return to your natural way of breathing—diaphragmatic breathing. Test your breathings effectiveness and get helpful resources on diaphragmatic breathing at Optimal Breathing.