Diaphragmatic breathing has been used for millennia in Eastern cultures to help balance the nervous system. Research has confirmed that diaphragmatic breathing acts on the vagus nerve to improve our parasympathetic tone, which helps our bodies deal with stress better. Because of this, diaphragmatic breathing has many possible uses, including, improved heart-rate variability, enhanced lung function, decreased digestive upset, and stress management.
Do It At Home
It is easiest to learn this exercise while lying on a flat surface. If you are experiencing any low back tension you can bend your knees or roll a pillow under them.
- Start by placing your hands (or a small flat object) over your belly button
- Inhale through your nose - Your hands should lift
- Exhale through your mouth - Your hands should lower
Repeat steps 2 + 3 until you have a slow consistent rhythm. Hang out for a bit enjoying your relaxation.
Note: Your belly should be doing the movement in this exercise and the upper portion of your chest should hardly move.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can close your eyes and scan your body from top to bottom for spots of tension and try to relax them as you go (some common examples might be your jaw or shoulders).
Once you have mastered the motion, this practice can be done in any position anywhere.
If you have an apple watch consider using this technique with the Breathe app. You can set the app to remind you to breathe throughout the day, allowing you to reset your nervous system on a regular basis.
- Stromberg SE, Russell ME, Carlson CR. Diaphragmatic breathing and its effectiveness for the management of motion sickness. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2015 May; 86(5): 452-7
- Russell ME, Scott AB, Boggero IA, Carlson CR. Inclusion of a rest period in diaphragmatic breathing increases high frequency heart rate variability: Implications for behavioral therapy. Psychophysiology. 2017 Mar; 54(3): 358-365
- Kulur AM, Haleagrahara N, Adhikary P, Jeganathan PS. Effect of diaphragmatic breathing on heart rate variability in ischemic heart disease with diabetes.
Note: The contents on Avail such as text, graphics, images, and information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this or any other website.