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How to Breathe from Your Diaphragm for Better Health

By Nancy Maneely

Watch a sleeping baby and notice how gentle and flowing his breath is. In and out goes the tiny belly. It's the way human beings were meant to breathe--by using their diaphragms, the primary muscle of respiration. Now notice your own rigid respiratory pattern the next time you get called into the boss's office,or arrive at an appointment with your tax agent, or lie in bed at night before sleep. One thing Eastern and Western medical practitioners agree upon: Employing the diaphragmatic breathing technique enriches the body's oxygen supply by as much as 600 percent.

Learning to Breathe Diaphramatically

Lie on your abdomen--this will best is the most effective way to feel the difference between the usual method of breathing and employing the diaphragm. Use a blanket propped under your chest if needed for comfort.

Feel and visualize the diaphragm descending as you exhale, and notice your abdomen expanding gently against the floor.

Exhale and feel or visualize the diaphragm relaxing and moving the breath upward toward the chest while your abdomen flattens toward your spine.

Close your eyes and follow your breath for a few minutes--but picture each breath cycle as BEGINNING with exhalation and ENDING with an inhalation (rather than the opposite as most of us learned to do from an early age).

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