Belly Breathing

Do you breathe from your chest or your belly? How we breathe can affect our well-being. Ninety-three percent of our energy is produced in the presence of oxygen. To determine how you breathe, place your hand over your belly button (sitting, standing or lying down). Now breathe like you normally do. Does your hand go up and down with your breath? If not, you are breathing from your chest.

Shallow breathing robs the body of vital oxygen and can actually trigger stress and anxiety reactions. Your body cannot enter a stress mode if you are breathing with your diaphragm. Shallow breathing takes place in your upper chest. Deep breathing takes place from your belly, fully using the diaphragm muscle and filling the lungs more fully. Breathing from the belly is the natural way to breathe. Chest breathing is learned.

I was a chest breather. I began to retrain my breathing simply by taking a few focused moments to concentrate on proper diaphragmatic breathing. The first time I practiced lying down in bed. I placed my hand over my belly so I could feel it move up and down with each breathe. I inhaled deeply and exhaled at the same rate. You must relax your stomach muscles to do this. After that, I practiced anywhere, anytime. Because I struggle with panic attacks, I saw immediate improvement in my state of mind, which was nearly always on stress mode.

There are numerous free resources on the Web, as well as resources you can purchase that will help you learn breathing exercises to improve your well-being. You can retrain yourself to breathe from the belly so it becomes the way you breathe all the time, even while you sleep. Go ahead, give it a try right now.

Debra L. Butterfield © 2010

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