Abdominal Breathing is also called Diaphragmatic Breathing or Belly Breathing. In this post, we take a look at what it means when we practice a deliberate Abdominal Breathing technique.
Nonetheless, keep in mind that Abdominal Breathing is not something extraordinary, but already part of our normal, effortless breathing pattern, the type of breathing that is called Eupnea.
Now, deliberately performing Abdominal Breathing involves intentionally contracting the diaphragm (the muscle located horizontally between the thoracic cavity and abdominal cavity) while inhaling air slowly and deeply through the nose, and letting the diaphragm return to its relaxed position when exhaling slowly through the mouth.
When we breathe in using an Abdominal Breathing technique, the diaphragm contracts, moves down and flattens, creating a kind of vacuum so that more air will be pulled into or can be inhaled into the lungs, and the abdominal region expands (because the diaphragmatic muscle pushes downwards). The muscles of the chest will do less work compared to normal, relaxed breathing (called Eupnea) or Shallow Breathing (also called Chest Breathing).
Abdominal Breathing is considered a deeper form of breathing. It allows practitioners taking normal, relaxed and full breaths, and it lowers pulse rate and blood pressure, while maximizing the amount of Oxygen (O2) that enters into the bloodstream. It can be practiced standing, lying down, or sitting up.
Consciously carrying out Abdominal Breathing techniques may be used to counteract or interrupt shallow breathing, to strengthen the diaphragm and abdominal muscles, to gently massage the internal organs, to decrease breathing efforts and energy needs, to calm down in stressful situations, as a technique in certain types of Breathwork and in meditation practices, or as a tool in specific bodywork modalities, such as in Yoga, Reusi Dat Ton, Tai Chi, among others.
It may also be used therapeutically to alleviate certain health issues, such as headaches, anxiety, depression, menstrual cramps, and intestinal and/or stomach issues. Moreover, those who experience problems with the chest region or lungs may benefit of practicing Abdominal Breathing to increase O2 intake.
On the Internet, you can find lots of examples of how to practice deliberate Abdominal Breathing. For instance, just take a look at:
- WikiHow – How to Do Abdominal Breathing
- University of Georgia – Department of Psychology
- University of Saskatchewan