D for Diaphragm.
The human body is designed with the utmost care and intelligence. While the lungs expand and contract in sync with inhale and exhale, it has a lot of supportive organs which aid to enhance the functionality of the lungs. The diaphragm is such a support muscle which is presented at the base of the chest, the curvature of the ribs. This one is like an elastic band attached to the base of ribs.
Every time we breathe, the lungs expand and fill with air. The ribcage expands to facilitate the expanding lungs. Also the diaphragm plays an important role of moving down (imagine the elastic band stretching) towards the abdomen making more space in the thoracic cavity. As we exhale, the diaphragm moves up due to its elastic nature, and helps to contract the space in thoracic cavity and the air is exhaled out of lungs.
While we were born, our breathing pattern was healthier. Over time, we have learnt to breathe through our mouth, forgetting the nostrils, leading to snoring and various other issues. We forgot the usage of expanding the ribcage to expand the lungs.
Now to expand ribcage consciously can be a challenge to many who don’t move their body much. Working with the diaphragm can benefit for those people and slowly we can reach the state of feeling the ribcage expand.
The idea is to slowly open up the abdomen – like stretching the abdominal muscles – on inhale. This will help in pulling down the diaphragm. And when we switch to exhale, we consciously tuck in the abdomen slowly taking it towards the spine. Here we work on the diaphragm going up. Focusing on the abdomen and moving it out and in consciously during inhale and exhale is an indirect way to work the diaphragm.
This will slowly lead to the expansion and contraction of thoracic cavity space. And with time, we can start feeling the ribcage opening and closing during breathing.
A simple way to go about it:
- Sit comfortably, preferably with spine straight. Take back support if you want to maintain a straight spine.
- Close your eyes – again, choose comfort level or go through this post first.
- Relax shoulders.
- Focus on abdomen. Start feeling your breath at your abdomen. You can feel gentle movements like a wave at the abdomen.
- Stay with it for a few moments.
- Now, consciously bloat abdomen on inhale and tuck it on exhale. Repeat this for a few moments.
- Feel the comfort level.
- Repeat twice a day and enjoy.
This is also a great way to calm ourself as we send inputs from the abdomen to the brain that all is well down there. This abdominal breathing switches on the para sympathetic nervous system and is a great way to bring in calmness to our body. Those people with anxiety can try this and benefit a lot.