Is Belly Breathing Right...?

You've heard of 'Belly Breathing' but it is right?

The notion of the term ‘Belly Breathing’ can mean very different things to different people.

If we look at the ‘facts’ or the anatomy of breathing, our lungs where we breathe air into, are not located in our belly, they are housed by our ribcage. Importantly they’re attached to the lower portion of the ribcage and at the bottom of our lungs is our primary breathing muscle, the diaphragm. A funny domed shaped muscle that has one of the most important jobs in the body to keep us alive, working potential over 20,000 times a day if we are able to use it affectively.

The diaphragm is our primary breathing muscle that many of you will of heard of but may not use it that well or know how to know if you are or not?! That was one of my first questions to a physiotherapist friend of mine when I started to research diaphragmatic breathing…

“how do I know if I’m it it right or not, or even if I’m using my diaphragm, what does it feel like?”

I’d heard of belly breathing and could feel my belly move a big, but was this right?

The term ‘belly breathing’ is born out of the combination of both the over simplification of 'not upper chest breathing' and breathing lower being ‘better’ and the fact that when we breathe using the diaphragm properly we drawn air efficiently into the lower portions of the lungs and as the diaphragm moves down we feel the movement effect of the diaphragm on the internal organs below. Thus we feel the ‘belly’ move.

That is one of many reasons why diaphragmatic breathing is beneficial for digestion (so much so, many clients and patients myself and Dr Sally Bell from Rooted Life have worked with together have reversed gut and digestive issues with re-learning correct breathing mechanics). The correct mechanics help to gently massage the internal organs that are situated below the diaphragm and the gut is one the those that benefit from this gentle physical movement. 

But just the ‘belly’ moving out and back in is very one dimensional and doesn’t incorporate the important movement of the ribcage to which the diagram is attached all around. For the diaphragm to function optimally and move correctly we need the lower portion of the ribcage to expand all around us, which creates the space all around the diaphragm for it to move and articulate through its correct motion. As it's attached to the ribs, if you just move your ‘belly’ out and not expand your lower ribs during inhalation then its likely you’re not truly benefiting from diaphragmatic breathing.

There are other ways that breathing affects things like our gut health and our digestion. The direct link between our breathing and our nervous system means that our breathing directly affects our stress levels and can be used to control stress levels which when we have greater sympathetic activation of the nervous system our digestion is negatively influenced as digestion is very my a parasympathetic process and the body need to feel calm, relaxed and safe - the opposite of stress.

As our physiologist at Rooted Life, Catherine my wife, says,
“the body has so many processes that it has to do, it simply can’t do all of those processes at the same time. Hence why we have two arms to the nervous system. If the body ‘feels’ stressed (sympathetic activation) the body will not therefore send resources to the digestive system as it's not a process that is necessary to deal and cope with stress… digestion can wait till later when we are safe from the danger or stress”.

It’s one of the things that fascinates me about the breath. It is potentially so simple, so much so it happens automatically. It has the potential to affect every system within our body. It's always there and always available to us. What I love to teach is how you can use some conscious awareness of your breathing to help your body build resilience to stress and thrive.

We have some free resources at www.RootedLife.co.uk that if you create a free account you get full access to seminars, talks and ebooks and we have specific free resources on Gut Health and also Breathing. 
If you have any questions about the breath for me and how it can be such a life long affective tool for improving all aspect of your health and wellbeing then I’d love to here from you email connect@rootedlife.co.uk.

Keep it nasal 

J A C K O 
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