The single most important thing you can do for your health and wellbeing is so natural babies do it automatically without thinking about it. It is as simple as breathing with your diaphragm. Learn how and why here. Check out the exercise in this article and be amazed at how you can feel when you breathe like you were meant to.
The extreme importance of breathing
Of course, everyone recognizes the extreme importance of breathing. You only have to remember a time when taking your next breath was a challenge and it becomes all too obvious. The thing is, we can survive for months without food and days without water but if you don’t breathe for just a few minutes then you are finished; your body shuts down for good – haktus cactus – game over.
You diminish your life force when you don’t breathe properly
Despite the importance of breathing most people take it for granted. In fact for most people, breathing is an entirely unconscious activity. This would be fine if they breathed properly; the fact is most people don’t.
When not involved in strenuous exercise, most people take very shallow breaths into the top 1/3 (or even less) of their lungs using their shoulders and muscles between the ribs to expand and contract the rib-cage. The leads to a reduced flow of oxygen into the blood and lower levels of vitality. Proponents of eastern disciplines such as Tai Chi and Yoga would also claim that shallow breathing reduces the flow of Chi or Prana (life force) in the body which in turn causes reduced vitality and poor health.
Breathing influences how we feel
For the purposes of this program it is important to note that how you breathe influences how you feel and your ability to do the inner work required for the KenJo patterns.
Experiment with the following:
The breath mind-state connection
- Sit with you back straight and close your eyes
- Become aware of how you are breathing – don’t change it, just become aware of the depth, frequency and the muscles you use to breath.
- Give your sense of inner calm a score from 1 – 10; where 1 your mind is like a rabid monkey and 10 you are totally Zen.
- Take a deep in-breath to a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, breath out for a count of 4 and hold for a count of 4.
- Repeat 5 times.
- Rate you sense of calm on the 1 to 10 scale.
You may note that a couple of minutes of deep full breathing dramatically altered your internal state. Deep even breathes produce an immediate calming effect on the body and mind. Further, breathing properly by using you diaphragm will lead to a general sense of, vitality and well-being. The thing is that we started off breathing like this when we were small children and we breath with our diaphragm when we are asleep.
So the trick is to re-learn how to breathe with your diaphragm when you are awake a moving through your day. Check out this excellent video on how to breathe with your diaphragm.
Breathing for vitality: exercise 1
How to breathe with your diaphragm
Check out this excellent video on how to breathe with your diaphragm.
Video acknowledgement: Kevin Drake Fitness
More instructions on diaphragm breathing
The text below also describes how to breathe with your diaphragm.
- The diaphragm is a dome-shaped structure of muscle and fibrous tissue that separates the chest or thoracic cavity from the abdomen. In its relaxed state the dome curves upwards into the thoracic cavity. The upper surface of the dome forms the floor of the thoracic cavity, and the lower surface the roof of the abdominal cavity.
- The diaphragm is your proper breathing muscle. To breathe in the muscles between your ribs (the intercostal muscles) and your upper core (belly) muscles relax as the diaphragm contracts and flattens. This causes the volume of the thoracic cavity to increase and draw air into the lungs.
- Place your palm over your solar plexus (the area just below where your ribcage joins together – the bottom of your sternum) and cough. You will note strong muscles contract when you do this. This is how a cough so forcibly drives air from your lungs. Now consciously force as much air from your lungs as possible by contracting these muscles as well as the muscles between your ribs (the intercostal muscles). Really press as much as you can. Get a sense of the muscles you are using to do this.
- Keep your hand in place and focus your attention on your solar plexus and belly and take a deep breath with the intention of using your diaphragm. The muscles you used to expel air from your lungs should now totally relax; as should your shoulder muscles. The action should push against your hand as your belly expands. This is because the diaphragm is pushing down on the abdomen. In this action your upper chest will expand somewhat but the primary action of breathing should come from your diaphragm and belly.
- Keep practicing the deeper breathing until you can consciously use your diaphragm instead of raising and lowering your shoulders.
- Now practice taking smaller breaths using your diaphragm.
Notes on breathing with you diaphragm
If you have difficulty at first with this exercise, do persist. Your body does know how to breathe with the diaphragm because this is how you normally breathe when you are asleep.
Once you can consciously use your diaphragm to breathe the next step is to make it habitual. Here are some suggestions about how to do this.
- Make a commitment each morning to breathe with your diaphragm
- Paste reminder notes about the place
- Consciously practice diaphragm breathing for 5 minutes a day and ask your body to keep doing it that way
- Repeat often to yourself “I now breathe with my diaphragm habitually” or whatever affirmation will have more impact for you.
As you go about your day be aware how your breathing affects you mood changes. How do you breathe when you are happy, nervous, afraid, doing shyness, confident, angry or depressed.
Be aware of the depth of your breathing and which muscles you use.
You will find that as you focus on things that you can be thankful for your day will turn into a smile.
- 1.How we learnt to breath in a way that creates more stress and pain
- 2.How breathing correctly can crush the devastating effects of toxic thoughts
- 3.20 scientifically proven health benefits of diaphragmatic breathing
- 4.How to breathe with your diaphragm and get your energy back.