"Belly Breathing" is one of the most effective tools for relaxtion. It maximizes the amount of oxygen that goes into the bloodstream and it triggers the body's natural relaxation response.
Belly Breathing is marked by expansion of the abdomen rather than the chest when breathing. Many of us breathe using our upper chest but breathing from the abdomen (or belly or diaphragm) is a much more effective way to breathe and to calm ourselves and relax our mind and body.
Belly Breathing is simple:
1. Place your hand on your belly.
2. Inhale through your nose into your belly so your belly expands like a balloon. (Your belly should expand but your chest should not)
3. Slowly breathe out through your nose, using your stomach muscles to push your belly back in until all the air is pushed out.
4. Try to make your exhalation last longer than your inhalation so that all the air is pushed out of your lungs
5. Keep breathing in and out slowly for a few minutes.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, describes Belly Breathing (aka Diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, or deep breathing ) as "....slow and deep inhalation through the nose, usually to a count of 10, followed by slow and complete exhalation for a similar count. The process may be repeated 5 to 10 times, several times a day."
It takes practice to breathe with the abdominal muscles. If you are someone who is used to breathing with the upper part of your chest, it may take a while until you get the "feel" of what the new breathing method it supposed to feel like in your body. Don't give up! It really works!
How Does Belly Breathing Benefit Us?
By getting more oxygen into your lungs, and then into your blood stream, your muscles will have more "fuel" and the heart will need to beat less quickly and with less effort. When this occurs, the amazing and complex interplay between the brain and the various hormone-producing parts of the body (like the adrenal cortex) will change and smaller amounts of stress hormones will be released. The liver and kidneys will then be able to "catch up" with all of the stress hormones in the blood stream and the fight or flight response decreases and then ultimately stops.
• Feeling stressed, angry or worried
• In a traffic jam
• Running late for a meeting
• Waiting in line at the store
• About to have a difficult conversation with someone
• In a meeting you’d rather not attend
• Lying in bed before going to sleep
• Preparing to start your day