By Riva Preil
The diaphragm is a cone-shaped muscle at the base of the rib cage and it is the primary respiratory muscle. An essential component of any relaxation program is proper performance of diaphragmatic breathing. This is an important technique to learn because it helps relax the autonomic nervous system. Proper performance of diaphragmatic breathing can help to quiet brain activity which results in relaxation of all the organs and muscles within the body. An up-regulated nervous system is associated with muscle guarding, tension, stress, and tightness. The muscles are shouting loudly at high volumes, and this pattern can result in pain and discomfort. However, diaphragmatic breathing alleviates the tension by “turning down the volume” of the system thereby creating a calming, soothing affect.
The proper way to perform diaphragmatic breathing is as follows:
- Lie on your back or recline in a chair in a relaxed position. Place your hands atop the lower portion of your rib cage.
- Relax your jaw by placing your tongue on the roof of your mouth and keep your teeth slightly apart.
- Inhale slowly through your nose for a count of five seconds. Allow your widening of the rib cage and expansion/rising of the abdomen. Keep your upper chest, neck, and shoulders relaxed.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of five seconds. Allow your ribs to collapse inward and your abdomen to fall (return to starting position).
- Repeat this 10x every night prior to going to sleep or at any time during the day when you experience stress or tension.
Now doesn’t that feel AMAZING? Enjoy your calm and relaxed state of being!