How To Get Back In Shape
Diaphragmatic Breathing (3' Audio)
Remember to clear all exercises with your health care practitioner. This is an
exercise in diaphragmatic breathing and body awareness as you become aware of your breath.
Close your eyes, preferably lying down comfortably,
with your hips and knees bent and your feet flat on the bed or floor. Or if you are sitting, elongate your
spine to give your diaphragm room to expand.
Place your hands lightly on your abdomen.
Imagine your abdomen as a balloon. Your diaphragm is the top and your pelvis
is the bottom of the balloon, your abdominals and back muscle make up the front, back and sides of the balloon.
Now as you gently fill the balloon with air, feel your abdomen expand. Your hands on your abdomen will move out
as you inhale and will move in as you exhale. Never force, simply allow.
We will use the Taoist 70% rule which means only go to 70% of your capacity to
avoid strain or injury.*
Allow you breathing to become rhythmic, expanding your abdomen as you breathe
in and contracting it as you breathe out. Feel your abdomen rise or expand as you gently and slowly inhale.
Then feel your abdomen contract back down as you exhale. Release any tension you feel anywhere in your
For this exercise simply breathe in and out thru your nose. This is your
everyday relaxed breathing. If you feel yourself getting tense during your day, do two or three diaphragmatic
breaths and feel the tension begin to drain away.
Start to notice your breathing pattern as you go about your day. You may find
that your breathing is generally more shallow than it was during this exercise. In fact, you may find that when
you are really concentrated on a task, you may even hold your breath.
As you breathe slowly and gently, begin to imagine the new you. Start to
visualize the goals you want to achieve. See and feel your body looking the way you want it to look, doing the
things that you want to be able to do. Continue to breathe in, expanding your abdomen. Then exhale and
Practice a few diaphragmatic breaths in bed before you go to sleep each night.
This allows you to release the tension of the day to give you a more relaxed sleep. Take periodic "breath
breaks" at work and throughout your day.
Becoming aware of your breathing pattern will help you prepare for and improve
the quality of your exercises. So, become aware of your breathing pattern and enjoy a breath of fresh
Use Diaphragmatic Breathing to increase your oxygen intake deeper into your
lungs. Use diaphragmatic breathing for relaxation and calming your nervous system. Focusing on diaphragmatic
breathing can help you enhance your exercise program as well as your meditation program.
* The Toaist 70% rule is taught to us by Taoist Lineage Holder Bruce Frantzis
of EnergyArts.com. For
more information: Learn To Breathe
An often overlooked aspect of diaphragmatic breathing is its
affect on our "core". We spend time trying to work our abs and deep muscles for stability and
appearance. This often results in shortening of the muscles if we fail to also stretch the muscles, such
as lying backwards or sideways over a BOSU or exercise ball.
Muscles must be at their optimum length to be at their optimum
strength. A shortened muscle has "less room" for the muscle fibers to contract. So, by doing
diaphragmatic breathing gently and correctly, we actually add flexibility to our core muscles from the inside
out. The overall result is more control and awareness of our core.
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