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It is Okay to Act Like a Baby. The Secret of Abdominal Breathing.

Abdominal Breathing is the one and only time it is socially acceptable to act like a baby!

Stop for a moment and just observe your breath.

If you are like most people, you will have observed one of two things:

  • You are breathing very shallowly; mostly a quick chest breath, OR
  • You are not breathing at all; you are actually holding your breath.

Only a select few of us will be breathing with long and deep belly breaths. This is what is known as abdominal breathing.

You use to know how to function with a normal abdominal breathing rate...we all did as babies. So what happened?

Stress happened!

Because shallow breathing is actually part of the stress response, we learned, over time, to begin holding our breath and breathing only with our upper chest. So chances are if you are stressed, and searching a site like this for stress relief tips, you need to re-learn the art of abdominal breathing.

The Good News: The stress response can be totally de-activated by consciously breathing and engaging your diaphragm, also known as diaphragmatic breathing.

Abdominal breathing kicks in our parasympathetic nervous system and allows our entire body to move into a relaxed state.

The 6 Secret Steps to Abdominal Breathing:

I will go into much greater detail in terms of the anatomy of the breath later on in the website, but for now, lets go over the basic steps to kick start you back into abdominal breathing mode:

  1. Come to a quiet space where you can focus only on the act of breathing.
  2. Sit up straight, with a straight spine. Slouching will discourage your attempts. Alternately, you may find it easier to lie flat on your back on the floor.
  3. Bring your attention to your navel area. For beginners, it is often helpful to place your hands on your belly so that you can feel it rise and fall (expand and contract) with each breath.
  4. Take a slow, deep and gentle inhale through your nose and let the belly relax and expand as you do so.
  5. As you exhale through your nose, slowly and gently pull the navel in and up toward the spine, and feel your belly contract.
  6. Repeat for the next 3 minutes, noticing that with each breath, the tension in your entire body begins to melt away.

Note: Focus your entire effort on breathing only into your belly and lower abdomen. You may find that your chest tightens; this is normal if you are new to this. As an aid, you may place one hand on your chest, while keeping the other hand on your abdomen. Just maintain your focus on expanding your belly and relaxing your chest.

After a few minutes, you will get the hang of what it feels like to breath like a baby again!

Keep coming back to these steps periodically throughout the day. When you find yourself getting stressed or up-tight; when your shoulders are crawling up toward your ears – pull out these 6 easy steps and re-train your brain!

Once again, if you have any specific questions, please give me a shout.

Yours In Wellness,

Dr. Lisa

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