If you want to know how deep belly breathing can improve your health, this article will show you belly breathing benefits and the best way to do it.
When you’re told to “take a deep breath”, do you open your mouth and puff out your chest?
Well, you’re doing it wrong!
Breathing from the chest means you’re only filling the top one-third of your lungs. Your chest doesn’t hold anywhere near as much oxygen as your body needs.
When you don’t get enough oxygen, your heart has to work harder to pump blood around. This keeps your body in a state of hyperarousal, making it impossible to relax.
The real way to breathe is from the belly, not the chest.
Our bodies are designed to use our diaphragm for drawing in air. The diaphragm is a big dome-shaped flap of muscle below the lungs.
Using your diaphragm to breathe means drawing in air from the belly, allowing for full oxygen exchange in the lungs.
Belly Breathing Benefits
1. Boosts Your Metabolism
The more oxygen you get, the more efficient your metabolism: it’s as simple as that!
Breathing is the fastest way to oxygenate our blood, and oxygen is needed by all of our body’s cells in order to make adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
ATP is the energy our cells use to carry out their many metabolic functions – including keeping you alive!
When there’s a lack of oxygen in the blood and in your cells, the metabolism slows down, becoming sluggish and inefficient.
2. Helps Relieve Stress
Belly breathing pulls the brakes on the stress response. Why? Because when you’re focusing on your diaphragm, you’re not focusing on whatever crazy stressful situation may be happening around you.
This tricks your brain into believing there’s nothing to be ‘stressed’ about. The brain stops telling the hypothalamus to activate the adrenal glands that produce stress hormones, and instead allows your body to return to a calm state of ‘rest and digest’.
3. Helps Reduce Pain
The stress response increases inflammatory chemicals in the body, which in turn worsens conditions linked to chronic pain.
Belly breathing helps to remind your body that you’re not in danger, which switches off the production of these inflammatory chemicals. As a result, pain and inflammation are brought down a notch.
Doing belly breathing regularly can also help to reduce ‘flare ups’ of pain.
4. Improves Your Posture
When you breathe properly using your diaphragm, you’re forced to sit up straight and release tension from your core.
After slumping into your work desk all day, this is a great way to open up your ribcage and take the pressure off your other organs.
Good posture draws air directly to where it’s needed: the belly, chest, and lungs.
5. Wakes You Up
Oxygen is the fastest and most natural way to energize your cells – it’ll do more for you than a cup of coffee ever could!
Many of us spend hours a day staring at a screen, or slouched over a desk, or both. A few minutes of belly breathing will make you sit up, bring your focus back to the breath and re-oxygenate your body. You’ll feel instantly refreshed and ready to get on with your work.
6. You Can Do It Anywhere
While there are plenty of classes and tutors available to teach you yogic breathing or meditation techniques, the truth is that they’re all based on one thing – belly breathing.
If you’re motivated enough to focus on belly breathing by yourself each day, you can do it anywhere, anytime – for free!
7. Strengthens Your Core
Deep belly breathing involves using your core muscles: your abs, erector back muscles (the muscles that keep us tall and erect), diaphragm, and pelvic floor.
Belly breathing requires a natural three-dimensional movement of all these muscles, giving them a workout that doesn’t require exercise equipment.
8. Improves Mental Concentration
By switching off the stress response, the body returns to ‘rest and digest’. In this state, the mind is clearer and it’s much easier to focus.
You’ll be more productive in your work and better able to retain information.
9. Boosts Your Lung Power
There’s a reason that singers, speakers, musicians and athletes practice belly breathing: it enhances their lung capacity.
When the lungs can take in more air, the cells receive the extra oxygen needed to boost performance.
A singer can hold a note for longer, and a runner can push through an extra mile. And you can do anything you want!
10. Improves Mind-Body Connection
Traditional yoga practitioners believe that breathing from the belly strengthens and purifies your energetic field.
It helps to balance the chakras, supporting the mind-body connection and allowing you to overcome negative thought patterns.
11. Aids Natural Detoxification
Filling your body with oxygen allows the lymphatic system to function more efficiently.
Breathing properly improves blood circulation to the body’s major detox organs: the liver, kidneys and skin. The increase in oxygen increases lymphatic drainage pathways through these organs, helping them to flush toxins and waste from your body.
It’s believed that belly breathing can increase the rate of toxin elimination by up to 15 times.
12. Increases Nutrient Absorption
Belly breathing increases the flow of blood and oxygen to your digestive system, allowing it to work faster and more efficiently.
This helps to speed the passage of waste through the intestines, reducing digestive problems such as gas, bloating and general discomfort. It also allows for better elimination of waste products, improving bowel function and regularity.
How to Do Belly Breathing
- Sit with your back against a wall, or lie down comfortably on your back.
- Rest one hand on your belly. Observe your hand rising and falling with each breath.
- Begin by breathing through your nose. As you breathe in, let your belly expand and fill with air.
- Focus on not moving your ribcage too much. It’s your diaphragm that should be expanding first, which then allows your lungs to draw in oxygen.
- It may help to lie down and place a stable object on your belly, such as a book. Aim to push the book upwards using only your abdomen as you inhale deeply using your diaphragm.
The more you practice, the more naturally you will use your diaphragm to breathe. Aim to practice belly breathing for about 15 minutes each day. Remember, it’s the simplest way to go from feeling frazzled to feeling fabulous.
Which other belly breathing benefits do you know?
This awesome article was written by Fawne Hansen, check out her article about adrenal fatigue