Diaphragmatic breathing is when you use the diaphragm and abdominal muscles to breath rather than just using the upper chest.
The normal breath cycle is started by the diaphragm contracting and moving down. This causes the air pressure in the chest to become negative. Air is forced into this negative area of pressure and the lungs expand into the available space.
The diaphragm is also helped by the intercostal muscles which lie between your ribs and the muscles which attach the clavicle (the scalenes and sternocleidomastoid), help to lift the clavicle to further aid respiration.
With the added pressure today to have the perfect body and flat stomach, women instinctively pull their stomachs in. This increase in tension of the abdominal wall transfers to the pelvic floor and the diaphragm and stops them from descending properly during breathing.
Why diaphragmatically breathe?
There are many benefits of breathing using your diaphragm. Diaphragmatic breathing forms the basis of many breath focussed practices such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness.
Breathing is part of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), meaning that it happens without us having to remember to do it. The ANS is made up of the parasympathetic and the sympathetic nervous system.
The parasympathetic nervous system is in charge of everyday processes while the sympathetic nervous system regulates our fight or flight responses which can be switched on by stress.
Diaphragmatic breathing has been shown to positively effect many of our body systems including those of the ANS.
Benefits such as:
How do you breathe?
How to diaphragmatically breath
Uses for diaphragmatic breathing in women’s healtH
Diaphragmatic breathing can be very beneficial for many women’s health issues.
The diaphragm descends in unison with the pelvic floor when you take a deep breath in. This can help reduce an overactive pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is made up of muscles, which like others can become tight.
An overactive pelvic floor can have impact such as:
Diaphragmatic breathing can also help with constipation. When sitting correctly on the toilet with your feet raised on a stool the allow the pelvic floor to fully relax, this breathing technique can help calm and massage the system allowing for easier passing of the stool. This avoids any straining or bearing down.