“If you can give your whole, undivided attention to just one single breath, you can, in that moment, access the full power of your awareness, your divine and true Self, your perfection.” – Jaime Collaco.
Let this article be a guide to better understand your body. The benefits listed below are easily attainable by training our unconscious mind to breathe deeper into the belly. All can benefit and all can accomplish this. To follow the benefits, I have included techniques that I have found effective in changing the way my body breathes.
1) Decreases Anxiety- Chronic or acute, a deep belly breath is a five star natural solution for your anxiety. Pounding heart beat, shortness of breath, and overly-tensed muscles are all signs of an anxious person. A conscious action to take an diaphragmatic breath is effective to turn a fear driven mind to the present state. Thoughts that cause worry, doubt, and stress are all created from not being present. Also, the physiological response to taking a deeper belly breath will dramatically decrease one’s heart-rate and other symptoms of anxiety. “If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” -Amit Ray
2) Increases Lung Capacity- Swimmers, runners, and other athletes take advantage of this technique to increase their oxygen consumption rate. Activation of the diaphragm allows additional space for the lungs to expand as you breathe in whereas a chest breath limits your lungs capability to unlock it’s full potential.
3) Promotes Present Mindfulness- It takes an conscious action for a chronic chest breather to take in a belly breath. This positions you into the present; you are aware of your breath at that moment. You can simply meditate anywhere by being mindful of your breath. Meditation is strongly indicated for those whom are easily agitated, overly stressed, and those whom perceive to have a low quality of life. If you or someone close to you is suffering from these symptoms, you may be interested in the results of this study done on dementia subjects: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29466242.
4) Aids in Digestion- Abdominal breathing gently massages the digestive system promoting the breakdown and easy flow of your food. The diaphragm and abdominal muscles will persist to optimally massage your digestive system as long as you maintain a belly breath.
5) Initiates Relaxation response- The belly breath sends a message to your nervous system to slow down. From using the diaphragm and abdominal muscles, blood moves away from other muscles toward the abdominal cavity where it will be used. This initiates the Parasympathetic relaxation state where optimal self-healing can occur.
6) Reduces Neck and Shoulder Tension- Take a breath and notice if your chest expands and elevates. If this is the case, you are overusing a group of neck muscles known as the Scalenes. On average, we will take around 20,000 breaths per day. This is one of the most repetitive actions that we do and muscle tension develops from being overactive. We want to avoid using the Scalenes by deep belly breathing.
Consistent mindful practice is the key. The more you set your mind and attract deep breathing into your life, it will happen. For example, when waiting in the line or in traffic, I will draw my wandering mind to my breath.
Exercise: Place a hand below your belly button and breathe into that area. You should be able move your hand with your breath. Have you noticed that your chest doesn’t expand and elevate as much now? If so my friend, you are on the right path. For as long as you can, focus and continue to practice that exercise whenever you can. The more you do, the more your body will naturally incorporate the technique. You will soon find yourself having less anxiety, in greater health, lower heart rate, and most likely a elevated mood.
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Breath optimally my friends and Aloha!