Breathing Part 2 - Simple practice to improve breath awareness
Outlined here is one therapeutic breathing practice that can help you get in touch with your essential breath, also referred to as Diaphragmatic Breathing or Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilizing Breath. Take your time with it and observe how this practice affects you.
Part A: Start by finding your current way of breathing
- Begin by wearing comfortable, loose fitting clothing, sitting tall and comfortably in a chair. Feel your feet on the earth.
- Take a few minutes to relax and breath through your nose.
- Place your right hand on your breastbone and your left over your belly button.
- Now without trying to change anything, simply notice if your hands move with your breath.
Do you notice your belly rising with your inhale and falling with your exhale?
Can you feel your ribcage gently expanding 3-dimensionally on your inhalation and genty softening back inwards on your exhalation?
What is happening in your chest? Is it relatively quiet?
Just simply observe.
A hint: If you only felt your chest moving, then your breathing is likely "stuck" or reversed. The cool thing is that now you are aware of it. Remember we can only change those things that we are aware of.
As your lungs fill with oxygen, your diaphragm contracts and widens and sinks towards your pelvic floor, drawing your breath in. As you exhale your diaphragm, releases and lifts, pushing the air out of your lungs. Here is a great 3D animation to show you what you are going for.
Now you are ready to move onto Part B.
Part B: Easy Strap Breathing Practice
1) Find a stretchy scarf, or wide strap with some give and place it around your lower ribs tying it firmly enough so that you feel some gentle pressure on your ribcage.
2) Begin to breath, inhaling and exhaling through your nose.
3) Bring your awareness to your lower ribs where they come into contact with the strap. As you breathe into your belly and it expands, see if you can sense the expansion of your ribs into the strap on your inhalation. As you exhale can you sense the release of your ribcage and gentle drawing in of the belly returning to rest.
4) Continue with this for 4-5 minutes. Be easeful and relaxed in the rest of your body.
5) Once complete, remove the strap and continue breathing. Notice what you feel now in comparison to before, what are the sensations in your body?
The strap encourages your diaphragm to be your main breathing muscle and realigns your body with this natural process. Diaphragmatic breathing encourages the "relaxation response" in your body, improves circulation, and boosts the immune system.
If you have chronic tension and tightness try practicing this once per day for one week. You will be surprised what changes you notice.