Breathing Techniques - Michelangelo Light - ebook
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Breathing Techniques 

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Diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing

The diaphragm separates the lungs from the abdominal cavity. In normal breathing it hardly moves, but during deep breathing it extends downward into the abdomen on inhalation and upward on exhalation, promoting the most efficient type of breathing. Less effort is expended in diaphragmatic breathing to obtain the same quantity of air. Infants and small children use their diaphragms exclusively for breathing. Chest breathing occurs only later after the bony structure of the chest matures. Diaphragmatic breathing should be cultivated during daily life until it becomes a spontaneous habit. Nowadays,however, few have the ability to breathe with the abdomen due to tension, unhealthy habits, poor posture and tight clothing. A complete revolution in the state of physical and mental wellbeing can be obtained by mastery of this technique. Diaphragmatic breathing is particularly recommended for those suffering from chronic, obstructive lung disease. The simplest way to relax any mental tension is through abdominal breathing, as it promotes parasympathetic cardiovascular dominance. Of course, during strenuous activities, such as heavy physical work or competitive sport, greater lung capacity is required to absorb more oxygen, and then fuller breathing is required. However, in most daily situations, simple abdominal breathing is sufficient. In abdominal breathing there is a slight movement of the lower ribcage due to abdominal expansion, but this should not be forced by the ribcage muscles. The motion of the diaphragm massages the abdominal organs and tones the muscles of the abdominal wall, thus improving digestive, metabolic and excretory functions. During abdominal breathing less strain is placed on the heart. While practising in the upright position, the effect of gravity on the abdominal organs assists the downward movement of the diaphragm. As diaphragmatic breathing exerts a pull from the bottom of the lungs, rather than from the sides, as with thoracic breathing, the fresh air is more evenly distributed throughout the lungs. With less efficient types of breathing, pockets of stale air remain in the lobes of the lungs. In diaphragmatic breathing the tidal volume is larger and the proportion of ventilation wasted as dead space is minimized. In addition, enhanced ventilation of the lower lungs increases efficiency of gas exchange, because of greater blood flow in the lower lungs due to gravitational forces. The base of the heart and lungs are attached to the upper surface of the diaphragm, while the liver, spleen, stomach and pancreas lie immediately beneath it and are attached to the lower surface. Increased diaphragmatic movement improves blood circulation in these organs, thus