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Breathing a Little Deeper: The Benefits of Slowing Down

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Breathing is something you do all day long but probably do not give it much thought. After all, we have to breathe to live.  However, there is more to breathing than just survival. Taking deep, diaphragmatic breaths has many benefits. I am going to share a few of the many health benefits, how to properly do a diaphragmatic breath, and tips to incorporate this way of breathing into your routine. 

Check in with how you take a breath

Take a second to pay attention to your breathing. Don’t change it, just notice it for now. Do your shoulders or chest rise? Do you breath through your nose or through your mouth? Is it shallow or deep? Is it labored?

Breathing can look many different ways, but there are many benefits to being able to take deeper, diaphragmatic breaths.

So what is diaphragmatic breathing?

Let me first explain what your diaphragm is. The diaphgram is a muscle that sits under your lungs and separates your chest cavity from your abdominal cavity. When it contracts it flattens out, allowing the lungs to fill with air. When you exhale, it recoils back up as the air leaves your lungs. Most of us rarely use our diaphragm to its full capacity while breathing because we are taking shallow chest breaths all day. Initially, it may feel challenging to begin taking deeper breaths. 

Video of the diaphragm in action

Let’s practice breathing together

Find a comfortable place to either sit or lie down. Then, place your hands on your abdomen or on the outside of your ribs. Gradually inhale through your nose, picturing the air making its way to the base of the lungs as your belly and ribs expand outwards. Then, gently part your lips slightly and slowly blow all the air out as your abdomen and ribs sink back down. Close your eyes and repeat these slow, deep breaths a few times. 

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After taking a few deep breaths, maybe for the first time ever, how do you feel? 

When we allow ourselves to take deep breaths, we are allowing our parasympathetic system to take over. The parasympathetic system is our rest and digest system. Both sides of our autonomic nervous system are very important. However, we often are using our sympathetic system (fight or flight) too much. You can help regulate this system by taking some deep breaths throughout your day. How does that look in our bodies? Below are a few of the benefits of deep breathing: 

1. Helps relax us, which lowers cortisol (our stress hormone) 

2. Can improve our immune system functioning 

3. Will slow your heart rate down 

4. Can decrease your blood pressure 

Benefits of incorporating deep breathing into your routine

Make diaphragmatic breathing a part of your day and see for yourself the amazing benefits from a seemingly simple activity. 

Tips to implement a new routine:

1.  Each morning before you start your day, sit on the edge of the bed and do 5 rounds of deep breathing.

2. Before each meal do 5 cycles of breathing.

3. Set an alarm on your phone to alert you every few hours to do a few cycles of breath. 

4. Before you go to sleep, do 5 cycles of deep breathing. 

There are many more reasons and different techniques for breathing, but this can get you started. If you are unsure how to complete your diaphragmatic breathing or it doesn’t feel comfortable, you can always contact us or watch some tutorials on our YouTube channel

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