Stressed out? Anxious? Low mood in the middle of the day?
What about feeling tired, or sluggish?
How about the control and strength you have in your core?
And for the fast paced people out there - I don't mean meditation.
Most of the time the breaths we take in daily living don’t provide any of the beautiful effects that they are designed to provide, and heres’s why:
When we breathe, most of us breathe into what’s called our accessory respiratory muscles. These are at the sides of the neck, top of the shoulders and into the chest.
If you inhale, and
then you are probably using an inverse breathing pattern, which can impact the abilities of our digestive, muscular skeletal and nervous systems.
Optimally for the full effect of oxygenating our body, we need to regularly include breaths that use our diaphragm.
When we take a full, deep breath using the diaphragm, it descends down into the belly (as per the video above).
In order to make room for this, the belly has to move out and expand so that everything inside the belly still has room.
How to do it:
Inhale and feel your belly move outwards as you breathe in.
As you exhale, feel the belly sink back inwards towards your spine.
The neurological benefits are felt immediately.
A lot of us are running around in our daily life, trying to get things done, time pressured, and feeling at least a low level of stress buzzing away in the background.
When we are living this way we are usually in the sympathetic portion of our nervous system - or what we know as the “flight or flight” response.
Diaphragmatic breathing, along with lengthening the breath (especially the exhalation) has the ability to switch our nervous system back into the parasympathetic portion: which is our rest and digest function.
How it improves core control:
The diaphragm is on an essential functional loop with the deepest core muscle, the transverse abdominis, and the pelvic floor.
Without the diaphragm these two areas can never function to their full ability. And if they’re only working at half capacity, this usually means we compensate with our outer abdominal muscles (so we brace and breath hold to do simple movements).
Without control of the diaphragm we often miss the release phase of abdominal and pelvic floor activation, which can lead to a weak, and irritated pelvic floor.
Our cells need oxygen to be at their healthiest, and the place where we get our energy - the mitochondria, live deep within each cell.
Use it at the beginning of your workout and in between each exercise. This enhances core activation and ensures that you are still incorporating your deep inner unit muscles.
Put it into an easy part of your daily routine. 3 breaths before your coffee, or before each meal.
Sometimes at the beginning it can feel tricky to use the belly instead of the shoulders. If this is what you’re experiencing (or light headedness from the increase in oxygen) then start lying on your back, doing it before you get in or out of bed.
It gets easier with daily practice.
Over time you can practice lengthening the breath, start at 4 counts in and out, and increase by 2 as you improve, building up to 10-12 counts.