Abdominal Breath for Relaxation
Abdominal breath refers to breathing deeply into the bottom of the lungs and using the Diaphragm muscle to breathe.
Healthy people naturally breathe this way.
Abdominal breath massages the internal organs, stimulates the blood flow to the organs, encourages good digestion and elimination, relaxes the nervous system, provides more oxygen intake, makes you feel deeply energized, and just feels good.
Why Deep Abdominal Breathing is Relaxing?
When you breathe into your belly, the diaphragm pushes down on the abdominal organs. This creates pressure in the abdominal cavity.
Neuro-receptors on the wall of the main abdominal artery (AORTA) measures the pressure in the abdominal cavity. When the pressure is high, as in the case of deep breathing, the neuro-receptors send messages to the brain to relax the body.
This is known as the Parasympathetic Nervous System response, or "REST AND DIGEST" response.
The same happens when we eat. The pressure in the abdomen is high (due to the food), the brain receives those messages and then sends more messages to relax the body.
The opposite is the Sympathetic Nervous System reaction known as the "FIGHT OR FLIGHT" response. This is when all digestion stops, and the blood is pumped to the extremities (arms and legs) to fight or get away from danger. The FIGHT OR FLIGHT reaction is essential when a real danger is present, but is designed by nature only in emergencies.
The Parasympathetic response is a natural state and should be the prevalent state for your nervous system.
Modern Challenge: Stress, Anxiety, Sensory Overload
Due to our busy lifestyles and sensory over-stimulation, most people's Sympathetic nervous systems are ON: We are constantly in the FIGHT OR FLIGHT state.
As a result, the sympathetic response 'frazzles' our nervous systems, drains our adrenal glands, zaps our energy, and lowers our immunity.
Our breath has become rapid, unconscious, and irregular. Most people have to learn how to breathe into their bellies.
What can we do?
Step 1: Straighten the front of the body. You may sit up, or lie down facing up. Get comfortable. Relax any tension that you may feel at the moment: belly, shoulders, jaw, and face. Keep the shoulders open.
Step 2: Bring the awareness to your breath and notice if you are naturally breathing into your belly, or your chest, or both. Don't control it. Just observe.
Step 3: Deliberately draw the air into the bottom of your lungs on the inhale. Let the abdomen expand and extend out. Then, on the exhale, let the abdominal pressure release and, with minimal effort, slowly pull the belly in. The chest remains still the whole time.
You may place your hand on the belly to feel the rhythmic movement of the abdomen.
Practice the abdominal breath as often as you like, whenever and wherever you like. Practice it when you need to relax, calm down, or fall asleep.
Try it in a stressful situation. In just a few abdominal breaths, you'll feel a significant difference.