Do you know the difference between diaphragmatic breathing and what you are doing right now? The chances are good that you are a shallow or lazy breather because the majority of the population breathes in this manner. What do I mean by shallow or lazy breathing? Using the upper chest for respiration. And, you may think this is normal or natural when indeed it is not.
Every mammal on earth is born breathing with the support of its diaphragm, a muscular partition which separates the chest from the abdominal cavities. Unfortunately, sometime during our childhood development, we, the most intelligent of the mammals, stop this practice and resort to upper chest breathing.
Diaphragmatic breathing, on the other hand, makes use of the entire torso for respiration. What’s the difference? Lazy or shallow breathing does not allow for the elimination of the toxins in your blood which can result in an intensification of your stress, panic, or anxiety, for example. Were you to take your air all the way down to your diaphragm, however, you would then fill the entire capacity of your lungs.
The benefits of breathing in this manner are so numerous that I would be unable to list them all in this article; however, if you can make diaphragmatic breathing a habit, you will find that you have greater endurance during physical workouts, you can handle and often eliminate more of your stress, you will sleep better, and you will also be able to breathe away minor pain.
I know one woman who was able to get rid of her tension headaches by breathing correctly. Another man found that his blood pressure dropped when he breathed with support on his exercise bike. And, a professional golfer with whom I worked, now hits the ball further and with more control because she breathes when addressing the ball.
What is happening in all three cases? Breathing with support relaxes the body. This is why it is one of the best means of controlling your nervousness in public speaking.
If you haven’t thought about your breathing in the past and would like to know if you are doing it correctly or not, stand in front of a mirror without your shirt or blouse and watch yourself as you take a big breath. Did your shoulders rise as you sucked in your gut? If so, then you definitely should discover a better means of breathing because you just took a shallow or lazy breath!
Learn to breathe with the support of your diaphragm and you will be amazed at the difference in your life.
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. If you would like more information on the benefits of diaphragmatic breathing, click Voice Training and Presentation Skills for Nancy's free ebook.