Diaphragmatic Breathing

by Restorative Yoga Poses on March 16, 2011

Also known as abdominal breathing, diaphragmatic breathing is an excellent way to increase relaxation in a supported position. It allows the parasympathetic nervous system to kick in which promotes rest and digestion as well as an overall sense of well being.

How it works:
The diaphragm is a large dome-shaped muscle that divides the chest and abdomen. As it contracts it descends causing the abdominal cavity to expand. Meanwhile, the negative pressure created in the chest draws air into the lungs, venous blood flow into the heart, and lymph to circulate through the chest cavity. Together, these processes improve oxygenation, increase nutrient supply to the tissues and remove unhealthy bacteria and waste matter. This leads to healthier tissues and reduction of disease.

1) Position yourself in a reclined position, possibly Salamba Baddha Konasana.
2) Place your right hand onto your chest and the left on the abdomen.
3) Inhale through the nose and observe the right hand rising higher than the left hand as the chest/lungs fills with air.
4) Exhale through the mouth and then draw a slow deep breath in through the nose allowing the lung bases to fill fully with air and then hold the breath for a count of 7.
5) Release the breath slowly through the mouth for a count of 8 making sure that the lungs expire fully. Use a gentle contraction of the abdomen to empty the lungs fully.
6) Repeat the breath cycle 4 more times at a rate of one breath for every 10 -12 seconds.

Of note:
The expiration should be twice as long as the inspiration. Use the hands as a tool to observe the breath, though once you are comfortable with the abdominal breathing you can relax them to the side.

Use a mantra to coincide with the inhalation/exhalation such as “I am breathing in love and peacefulness, I am breathing out worry and fear”.

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