Proper breathing goes by many names. You may have heard it called diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, or belly breathing. When you breathe deeply, the air coming in through your nose fully fills your lungs, and you will notice that your lower belly rises.
The ability to breathe so deeply and powerfully is not limited to a select few. This skill is inborn but often lies dormant. Reawakening it allows you to tap one of your body’s strongest self-healing mechanisms.
Why does breathing deeply seem unnatural to many of us?
A baby breathes in the lower abdomen, and somehow, we forget, or we don't know better. One reason may we were not supported in how to breathe properly in our upbringing. Also, emotions change our breath-patten. Through emotions, we may hold our breath or breathe irregularly.
Body image affects breathing, too. A “washboard” tummy considered so attractive in our culture encourages men and women to constrict their stomach muscles. This adds to tension and anxiety and gradually makes shallow “chest breathing” feel normal.
The act of breathing engages the diaphragm, a strong sheet of muscle that divides the chest from the abdomen
As you breathe in, the diaphragm drops downward, pulling your lungs with it and pressing against abdominal organs to make room for your lungs to expand as they fill with air. As you breathe out, the diaphragm presses back upward against your lungs, helping to expel carbon dioxide (see figure).
Qigong and Tai Chi Abdominal Breathing
With abdominal breathing we even support our heart!
Abdominal breathing not only massages vital organs and the digestive system also, but it also helps the heart to work more effortless efficiently
Through the movement of the diaphragm, the heart finds support.
The diaphragm is connected to the pericardium. The pericardium is a thin sac that surrounds your heart. It protects and lubricates your heart and keeps it in place within your chest. Shallow chest breathing doesn't move the diaphragm.
When not advised otherwise, we breathe in our abdomen while practicing Qigong and Tai Chi.
In the slow-paced Yoga classes you will learn different breathing techniques. In the Yoga Fitness workout classes we always start with deep breathing Tai Chi prelimenary exercises with music.
Get the Abdominal Breathing hand-out here