Diaphragm breathing

Diaphragm breathing by Lymington Osteopath

Why Diaphragm Breathe ?

Have you heard of ‘fight and flight’?

Simply put, fight and flight is a response that is ‘ingrained’ in us to react to threat. The response is useful when needed to fight something off or to run away from the threat to yourself or your family, as the reaction gears you up to rise to the challenge.

Though, more commonly these days- depending on your environment, we provoke the same bodily reaction in response to things like a deadline, a demanding child, a broken washing machine or something else that your body reads as ‘deadly’ ‘dangerous’ and just plain stressful, but not in a good or helpful way. If this happens lots, it often leads to tension, pain, tight chest, tired overused muscles and impacts on your body’s hormonal balance and the health of your tissues.

One of the reactions of fight and flight is upper chest breathing and breath holding- getting you puffed up and geared up to run fast or fight, only helpful if you actually do need to run away, less so if it’s from the washing machine.. it’s an over-reaction we’re faced with day in day out, it’s way too excessive on our energy spending and it’s not easy to stop, as it is a built-in reaction; and so working on your reactions to things is important too, some things are just not worth the excess stress on our bodies.

One way to ‘cheat’ the system here, is to diaphragm breathe; it is associated with ‘rest and digest’ when we’re at rest, relaxing (important for recoup after a day of stressful washing machines and tigers), it helps us to be calm and collected and reduce tension in the body, and even in turning the ‘pain volume’ down; pain can be amplified when our low grade ‘fight/flight’ mode is ‘switched on’.

So, give diaphragm breathing a try- watch the ‘Diaphragm Breathing’ video to help you on your path to calmness or check out the notes below

How to Diaphragm Breathe…

  • The easiest way to learn is to lay down on your back comfortably. Knees up if it’s more comfy for you. Let your body sink down and relax onto whatever surface you find yourself on.
  • Place one hand on your tummy, one on your chest, take a deep breath in- did your chest rise or your tummy? – Normally always the chest!
  • We want to breathe into the tummy when we are at rest… here’s how to do it;
  • When you breathe in- think about the air coming into your lungs filling them up, imagining the air pushing down to the very bottom of the lungs so that the tummy rises up/outwards towards the ceiling- in affect, giving yourself a tummy and being ok with that.
  • It’s a good idea to use deep breaths to start with, to get the idea, but when you practice, slow the breath down to normal amounts for resting, don’t push it- it should be restful and relaxing and not forced, it can take practice.
  • When you’ve conquered laying down breathing, try it sitting up, then standing.
  • Check into your body at various points in the day, especially if stressed, to see if you’re all up in the chest again, then introduce a little diaphragm time to relax yourself.

Thank you for reading,

Michelle