Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercise



The diaphragmatic breathing exercise described here with the abdomen and chest slightly out of synchronisation, one following slightly behind the other, is the natural way that babies breathe. This method of breathing is also taught in the martial arts.


Many people in Europe and North America breath unhealthily. Their breaths are very shallow and only use 30-40% of their lung capacity for most of their lives. If you are one of those people then this page is for you.


Develop this way of breathing slowly. It will seem unfamiliar at first but you will gradually develop a good natural rhythm. You might find that you get the sensation of wanting to yawn when you inhale very deeply, as if you are not getting enough air. This is your body getting used to normal levels of oxygen again. It is a sign that you have been starving your body of oxygen for a long time now.


Diaphragmatic Breathing Program

  • 1. Exhale completely, push your abdomen right in so that your diaphragm expels all the air from your lungs.


  • 2. Inhale slowly by expanding your abdomen. Bring air into your body through your nose. The hair follicles in your noise gather dust and other debris from the air and prevent them entering your lungs.


  • 3. Continue inhaling and let your chest follow your abdomen and begin to expand. Allow your shoulders to rise a little. Imagine the fresh new air filling your head with energy.


  • 4. Hold your breath for a few seconds as long as your are comfortable. At no point allow this breathing exercise to feel uncomfortable or forced.
  • 5. Allow your shoulders to drop and your chest to contract and begin expelling the air from your lungs. Breathe air out through your mouth. Imagine all the stale, old, energy-depleted air leaving your body.


  • 6. Continue exhaling and let your abdomen push in.

Do these deep breaths at least 10 times and repeat throughout the day (at least twice) when you have a few moments to relax and refocus.


As you develop this diaphragmatic breathing pattern you will find that you will be able to hold your breath for longer and your respiration rate will start to slow.


The movement of your chest and abdomen will also help the movement of fluids through your lymphatic system which will in turn help your body to expel toxins and raise your energy levels.


After about three weeks your mind will start to build this in as a regular habit and the effort required to maintain it will fall away.


Breathing and Anxiety

The average respiration rate is between 12 and 14 times a minutes, but with correct diaphragmatic breathing we are aiming for 9-11 breaths per minute.


Often, the fast shallow breathing that many of us have, means that we hyperventilate. This reduces the carbon monoxide in our bloodstream, which in turn causes the carotid artery to our brain to restrict and trigger feelings of panic, stress and anxiety as levels of oxygen to our brain plummet. In effect your body is anchored by this physiological change to produce adrenaline.


Unfortunately, we actually sustain this type of breathing over years and years of our life.


Don't try to deliberately slow down your breathing to counteract this. Follow the exercise above to breath more deeply and eventually your breathing rate will slow in a natural way.