Diaphragmatic Breathing: Benefits and How-To Guide

Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as “belly breathing” or “deep breathing”, is a way of breathing that correctly uses your muscles in the right way.

Breathing is your life force and is essential for your survival! It occurs because of a group of muscles inside your body all working together. 

The diaphragm is the large, dome shaped muscle that sits at the bottom of your lungs and plays an important role in breathing. 

Learning how to properly use your diaphragm to breathe can have lots of benefits for your health!

In this article I will be going over what diaphragmatic breathing is, what the benefits are, and how you can practice it yourself. So let’s get into!

What is diaphragmatic breathing?

Diaphragmatic breathing is a style of breathing that involves slow and deep breaths.

As you inhale, your diaphragm tightens up (contracts) and lowers itself to create more room for air in your lungs. On the flip side, as you exhale, your diaphragm loosens (relaxes) and moves back up into place.

It is typical for people to get in the habit of taking shallow, short breaths. This is not the best way for your body to breathe. 

Your lungs need your diaphragm to completely tighten as you inhale and loosen as you exhale. 

Using deep breathing techniques can help you achieve this!

What are the benefits?

Practicing deep breathing can be very beneficial for your overall health and wellness. 

A few of the benefits include:

  • Reducing your heart rate
  • Relaxation and reduction in anxiety
  • Improving your core stability
  • Increasing oxygen in your lungs
  • Reducing your blood pressure
  • Improving how your muscles work during exercise

This style of breathing can be especially helpful for people with asthma, anxiety, lung disorders, and high amounts of stress. 

I do believe that almost anyone can benefit from deep breathing and since it has little to no risks, it is a great exercise for most of us to try.

How do you practice diaphragmatic breathing?

Learning and practicing how to breathe with your diaphragm is a great idea to get you started.

Try practicing your belly breathing fo 5-10 mins per session, a few times a day. It may be best to try in a quiet room at first!

Here is an exercise you can do:

  • While sitting or standing, place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage
  • Slowly breathe in through your nose and feel the hand on your belly rise. Make sure the other hand on your chest remains still 
  • Then exhale through your mouth and feel the hand on your belly move down as you exhale fully

It may be easier to practice lying down on your back at first. Then once you feel like an expert at that, you can practice while sitting up in a chair or on the ground.

You may feel tired the first few times you practice. That’s okay! It will get better the more you practice. 

After you master deep breathing when you are standing and sitting, you can use it while you are doing other things including stretching, playing sports and exercising.

Diaphragmatic breathing is also great to use when you are in a stressful situation or feel yourself getting anxious (such as before a big test or a shot at the doctor!). 

The Takeaway

Try practicing deep belly breathing for yourself and see how calm and collected you feel after.

Taking the time to breathe this way can have great benefits for your health, both long and short-term. 

As a registered dietitian, I like to recommend deep breathing to many of my clients.

Do you have any questions about diaphragmatic breathing? Contact me!