Abdominal Breath for Relaxation

Abdominal breath refers to breathing deeply into the bottom of the lungs and using the Diaphragm to breathe.

Healthy people and children 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, 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 to aid with digestion.

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 our natural state and should be the prevalent state of our 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.

Step-by-Step Yogic Breathing (Deergha Swasam)

Step 1: Lengthen the front of your body. You may sit up, or lie down on your back. Get comfortable. Relax any tension that you may feel at the moment: abdomen, shoulders, jaw, and face.

Step 2: Notice your breath and notice if you are naturally breathing into your abdomen, or your chest, or both. Don't control it at first. Just observe.

Step 3: Deliberately draw the air into the bottom of your lungs on the inhale. Let the abdomen expand and extend. Then, on the exhale, let the abdominal pressure release and, with minimal effort, pull the abdomen 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 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.

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