Role of Our Breathing Muscles
We very well know that our breath affects all of our vital systems, right down to the cellular level. It impacts your sleep, memory, energy level, and concentration. But in a busy life, breathing well can be easier said than done. Poor posture, emotional stress, mental pressure, conscious or unconscious movement patterns, and lack of movement can all contribute to restricted, shallow breathing and tension in the diaphragm, your primary breathing muscle. As unusual as it sounds, the diaphragm is also a very important muscle to look after. Conditioning of them same not only leads you to a more stress free lifestyle but also helps you improve your core strength. The diaphragm isn’t typically talked about in the context of your core. But located right at the center of the abdomen, it connects to many of your body’s stabilizers. Working in close relationship with the deep abdominals, the pelvic floor, and the multifidus muscles in the lower back, the diaphragm is part of your intrinsic core. Although an overactive diaphragm may also cause strained breathing and even cause neck tension. Neck muscles are secondary breathing muscles, helping with inspiration, and thus also frequently get involved in issues with the diaphragm and core.
So as you can see, the proper functioning of the diaphragm is essential for a body that moves effectively and effortlessly. Diaphragmatic breathing is a type of a breathing exercise that helps strengthen your diaphragm, an important muscle that helps you breathe. This breathing exercise is also sometimes called belly breathing or abdominal breathing. As a result, your body uses neck, back, and chest muscles to help you breathe.
Here is how you can strengthen your breathing muscles-
1. Numbered breathing
Numbered breathing is a good exercise for gaining control over your breathing patterns. Follow the steps for this exercise-
Stand up, staying still, and close your eyes.
Inhale deeply until you can’t take in anymore air.Exhale until all air has been emptied from your lungs.
Keep the air in your lungs for a few seconds, then let it all out.Inhale again.
Hold your breath while counting silently to 3, then let it all out again.
Repeat these steps until you’ve reached 8.
Feel free to count higher if you feel comfortable.
2. Deep Chest Breathing
Deep chest breathing requires two yoga blocks.
Sit on the floor and place the blocks behind you - one in a flat position and the other at the medium position.
Lay your shoulder blades on the flat block and your head on the other. Then relax your arms out to each side with palms faced upwards.
Next, you need to stretch your legs out in front of you. Inhale deeply and allow your chest to completely rise.
On the exhale, allow your stomach to fall first, then your diaphragm, then your lungs and finally your chest.
Repeat this exercise nine times with a regular breath in-between each repetition. Deep chest breathing tones both the diaphragm and the intercostal muscles.
3. Focused Diaphragmatic Breath
To perform focused diaphragmatic breath, it is helpful to understand exactly where your diaphragm is.
Take your fingers and place them on the bottom of your sternum.
Take a few breaths and feel your diaphragm move. Tense your stomach muscles and keep your fingers on your diaphragm.
Inhale and exhale several times, focusing on the diaphragm's movement. This exercise can help increase awareness of and tone the diaphragm.