The even better news about this exercise is it doesn’t cost you anything and you only need 10 minutes to do it. Have I got your attention?!
I’m talking about diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing. I’m sure this notion isn’t a revelation to you but let me ask you, are you doing it? If the answer is no perhaps it’s because you don’t fully understand the benefits because basic diaphragmatic breathing will change your life.
1. Increases the oxygenation of arterial blood. What does that mean? Well our body needs oxygen to stay alive, we all know that, and it gets the oxygen from our breathing – so if we’re breathing more efficiently the body is getting more oxygen and therefore we are nourished and energised right down to a cellular level. In a study by John West in 2000 he noted that the lower lung is 7 times more productive in oxygen transportation than the upper lung, so in order to access this part of the lung and receive these extraordinary benefits we must practice deep diaphragmatic breathing.
2. Reduces your risk of Cancer. An underlying cause of Cancer is low cellular oxygenation levels, which as we discussed above is increased through proper breathing.
3. Reduces risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure, stabilising blood sugars, increasing good cholesterol and reducing bad cholesterol.
4. Increases removal of waste from the body by 15 times (Dr. Shields, 1992). Diaphragmatic breathing is like a pump for the lymphatic system so it stimulates the lymph nodes and facilitates lymphatic drainage. Improper removal of waste causes the body to be toxic and inflamed, which is a major cause of many health issues and diseases.
5. Calms the Sympathetic Nervous System, which turns off the fight or flight response, and allows the body to resume normal functioning rather than being held in a stress response. This improves weight management, digestion, reproductive functioning, mood, brain function and sleep.
6. Slows the ageing process by increasing the release of the Human Growth Hormone.
So is this enough evidence to get you doing it? Let’s briefly talk about how:
This diagram really does say it all – ensure your belly expands as you inhale and deflates as you exhale. The key is to take long slow breaths, so count them as they’re going in and coming out (maybe start with 3 seconds each and gradually increase), and pause at the top and the bottom of each breath if you can. That’s it! Aim for at least 10 breaths or 8 – 10 minute rounds.
The beauty of this is you can do it while you’re sat at your desk, driving or even buying the groceries! Obviously there’s an added benefit to sitting calmly and focusing on the breath, but do what you have to do to get the body into this rhythm naturally and soon you’ll be feeling calmer, energised and more vital.