Hi there! This is Julie Hutsell-Starling, and I am doing this video today for you so that I can demonstrate what deep belly breathing is. I have been writing to you in my blog posts and in my newsletters lately about relaxation and about finding ways to manage stress. And one of the number one things that I have found over the years to be effective is deep belly breathing. And so I wanted to do a video of this because I know when I first started off doing this I didn’t know what to do, and when my teacher was first teaching me how to do it, it was a little bit confusing to me, so I wanted to do a video so that if it has been confusing for you, my hope is that this can help you.
The whole point of learning to do deep belly breathing instead of just regular breathing from your chest is because when you are able to breath from the abdomen and activate your diaphragm, it actually helps to reset the nervous system from the Sympathetic Fight or Flight Response to the Parasympathetic which is the rest and restore mode. And that is the place where we want to be because that is where are bodies are able to relax. And so when we are going through our day and we are stressed out, we are on auto pilot. We are only breathing because that is what our body does. If our life depended on us remembering to breath, we would be dead because we are not breathing. Many times during my day, I’ll recognize that I am not breathing. I say to myself, “oh my gosh, Julie, breathe!” Because I am just on auto pilot, barely breathing, just from up here. But when I actually allow myself to take a deep breath, I can feel everything relax.
And so what I want to do is help bring our breath down from the chest and into the abdomen. So the best way that I have found to do this is to imagine that my abdomen is a balloon that I am inflating on the inhalation. On the inhalation the breath comes in and your abdomen inflates, like a balloon, and on the exhalation the balloon deflates, the abdomen deflates, and the air comes back up. Your chest will still rise and fall with the breath, but it becomes the secondary action as opposed to the primary action, which is how it normally is. When you hear someone say “take a deep breath” and you take a deep breath into your chest and your shoulders rise, that’s not a very satisfying breath. So we’re bringing it down so that the abdomen’s actions of inflation and deflation become the primary actions. OK?
So another thing that I found helpful when I was trying this was that when I tried to breathe down into my abdomen I found that I couldn’t- the air was getting stuck. I couldn’t figure out how to get the air down from here [air passages] to here [abdomen]. My chest kept rising like this, and nothing was happening in my abdomen. Then I used a visual tool, that I made up, that was basically a pipe. That there was a pipe connected from my air passages to my abdomen, and this pipe is what brought the air down. And so it allowed the air to bypass the chest so that it could go directly into the abdomen where then it could inflate and deflate with the breath.
So I tried that, and that helped a lot to start getting my muscles, I guess, to work so that my diaphragm would start to expand, and the abdomen would expand with the breath. But I still found that it was a little bit tough at times because there was a lot of tightness in my chest, and so sometimes it really felt like a challenge to get the breath down into my abdomen. And so I used another visual tool that went on from the little pipe. So I would imagine that there was this little pipe connected from my air passages to my abdomen and then I would imagine that the pipe was all knotted up in the areas where I felt the tightness.
But then when I would bring the breath in I would imagine the pipe would go from knotted to open so that then the air would be able to pass through, and that helped me tremendously. So invite you to experiment with that. I know that when we close our eyes we all visualize things differently. So for you, just close your eyes when you do it and experiment, I invite you to take 10 breaths, try it 10 times when you start. Bringing the breath into your abdomen, inflating your abdomen like a balloon, and deflating the balloon as you exhale. And if you do get stuck at all then you can use the little visual tool of the pipe, and also of the pipe being knotted and then allowing the air to pass through and allowing it to open up.
See how that works for you. Feel free to leave comments below. I would love to hear what your experience is and if you have any other suggestions that you have found to be helpful.