Oliver's Blog

Thursday 7th February 2019

How To Do Abdominal Breathing

Breathing is essential for life and how we breathe really makes a big difference to our health and how we feel. We can breathe with our chest, but we can also breathe with our abdomen because we have this muscle, the diaphragm, going all the way through our body. This muscle can help us breathe - when we breathe in it can come down and create more volume in the lungs. This causes the abdomen to move out we breathe in and back in again when we breathe out.

When you watch babies breathe they nearly always breathe with our abdomen.  As adults we forget this and as a consequence our breath becomes quite shallow.

Physically this means we are not getting enough oxygen into the body nor removing enough C02 and toxins from the body and our energy tends to come more high up in the body.  Whereas when we breathe with the abdomen, our centre of gravity of drops down and we feel more in touch with our bodies, grounded and calimer.  Abdominal breathing also helps us to empty the mind and have a clearer head. We are mre able to think and perceive things more clearly and intuitively.  How we breathe really does have a big impact. I've created a video (below) and based this article on the video to make it more accessible and easy to follow.

How To Do Abdominal Breathing

Instructions For How To Breathe With Your Abdomen

I recommended to you that you practice abdominal breathing every day and see if you can shift your whole pattern of breathing.  I think you will find it makes a noticeable difference.

Firstly, sit in a chair or in a Seiza position on the floor (sitting on your legs) or cross-legged on the floor if you find that comfortable. Keep your back straight (don’t lean back on a sofa!) and then put one hand on your chest and one hand on your abdomen. Start off with chest breathing.  Breathe in, expand your chest then as you breathe out, relax. See how that feels - breathing with your chest keeping your abdomen still.  It probably feels quite easy and natural.  

Now add breathing with the abdomen.  You may find it quite difficult. You can breathe a little bit with your chest but try using mainly your abdomen.  As you breathe in it’s like bowing up a balloon - imagine the air comes in below the navel.  As you breathe out and relax, gently squeeze the abdominal muscles to help expel the air.  Do this a few times - breathing in and relaxing, then gently squeezing the abdominal muscles.  You’ll be able to see the abdomen moving and the chest not moving as much or at all.

You can breathe through your nose or your mouth; it doesn’t really matter.

After a minute or so relax and see how you feel.  Do you feel calmer? Do you feel more connected to your body or more energised?  Or if you are tired do you feel a bit more sleepy?

Some Further Thoughts About Abdominal Breathing

One more thing to say though, is that if you find it very difficult, and are used to breathing with your chest and tightening your tummy, then to be aware that breathing like that is not the best thing to do.  It’s really worth unlearning that behaviour and really focus on breathing in and gently blowing up the ‘balloon’ of your abdomen and then relaxing and gently squeezing the abdominal muscles.

Practise this for five minutes a day - when you get up in the morning (even before getting out of bed) or just before going to sleep. I can almost guarantee that within a few weeks (or less) you will feel different and start seeing the benefits.

 If you'd like to know more about abdominal breathing or find out how to improve your health in other ways, consider booking a one-to-one health consultation with Oliver.