It’s time my friends, for a little check in with your body. Take a deep breath. Great. How was it? Did your chest expand? Did your shoulders lift? Did your belly move at all?
Ok well if you didn’t catch what happened, then try it again.
Did you know that the way we breath can improve your core and pelvic floor health? There are an awful lot of folks (especially women) that do not breath in a way that can bring them all the benefits that good deep breathing can. Now this is not to say that we should always be focused on our breathing. Thank goodness our brain can run that program on autopilot so that we don’t pass out while we focus on other important tasks.
So besides the obvious benefit of getting oxygen to our body, occasional good quality deep breathing can be incredibly healing. Some focus on this with certain exercises, some while meditating, trying to get to sleep, and others during quiet times such as alone driving in their car. Regardless of WHEN, let’s first talk about WHY.
I recently happened upon a very lengthy paper that went through in GREAT detail all of the ways the diaphragm is attached to the rest of the body. Article found HERE
It took a serious amount of time to read through fully, so I am going to save you a ton of time by simplifying it here. The diaphragm is not a disconnected piece of tissue with only 2-5 attachments. It is fully integrated with the spine, the organs above, the organs below, many nerves, and it directly influences the pelvic floor. When it moves, it influences all of these other structures. When a person deep breaths, it stimulates the vagus nerve, which signals the nervous system to identify that the body is in a state of safety and relaxation. This can be VERY helpful for people that are stressed or in pain.
In addition, the diaphragm is important for posture, proper organ function, for the floor of the mouth, and for the vascular and lymphatic systems.
So now that we are all on the same page that your diaphragm is super awesome, lets talk about HOW to wield this amazing health promoting muscle.
Position. Whatever feels relaxed to you. There really is not a wrong position. This could be laying on your back, reclined in your car or armchair. Even on all fours (I dare you to try this)!
Breath is deeply through your nose and imagine a balloon filling your abdomen and let the belly expand more than you usually allow. It’s ok for your chest to expand as well, but not to the exclusion of your abdomen. Exhale through your mouth and let the air in your imaginary belly balloon escape. Breath at the pace that feels natural for you… no need to get light headed. Now try placing your hands on either side of your lower ribcage. As you inhale this time, try to not only expand your belly, but expand your rib cage outward and push your hands outward to either side. Just be sure to quit your chest a bit so that your shoulders are not rising like crazy and no increase in neck muscle tension should occur.
You can focus on your breathing for a set number of breaths, like 10-20, or just for a small period of time like 5-10 minutes. This is often practiced with meditation which is also incredibly good for our mental and physical health. It can be convenient to work on your deep breaths while driving in your car with your head supported by your head rest (it’s crazy how many people don’t use their head rests and strain their necks). However long and whatever position you choose to do this is totally up to you. It’s your body. It’s your well being and health.