by Dr Lyana Nepia DC

Diaphragm Breathing 

Breathing ourselves into Calm....

Did you know that Diaphragm breathing is the ONLY proven way to stimulate the calm, rest and repair side of our nervous system? We can simply take our body into a place of healing by how we breathe.

It is one of the most important and simplest things we can do for our health. Signs of not breathing properly can be if you notice that you ‘breath-hold’ or ‘forget to breathe’. 

Why? 

Our nervous system is what governs every cell in our body. 

The part of our nervous system that controls all the functions in our body that run in the background, such as blood pressure and digestion is called the AUTONOMIC nervous system.

There are two sides to this.

The SYMPATHETIC side, which is our ‘fight and flight’ response. Evolutionary wise, this would have been activated when we perceived a threat, such as facing a dangerous animal or any situation where we thought our life was threatened. 

Because of the nature of modern life, we OFTEN LIVE in sympathetic mode.

So every time we have a coffee (caffeine is a trigger) or think of a busy day ahead, we are stimulating our sympathetic nervous system (and our hunter gatherer ‘old’ brain is thinking ‘where is the Lion ūü¶Ā ….?’)!! 

Our thoughts are very influential on which side of the nervous system is activated, So if we think back to any past traumatic situations, our Sympathetic nervous system is activated and our heart races, our breathing quickens, Cortisol (our stress hormone) is released.  

Our opposing side of our autonomic nervous system, is our PARASYMPATHETIC side which is our ‘rest and repair’ (or ‘rest and digest’) side. 

So as we know diaphragm breathing actively stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, learning how to diaphragm breathe is a great way of bringing our body out of our fight and flight mode.

Here’s how:

  1. Lie down on your back (although once you’ve mastered this, you can do this anywhere). 
  2. Place one hand on your breastbone (sternum) and the other hand over your belly button. 
  3. Breathe in slowly through your nose. As you do this, concentrate on pushing your hand over belly button up and away. 
  4. Breathe out through the mouth, concentrating again on your belly button hand and letting it fall, almost sucking it in.
  5. Try and keep the hand over the breastbone still at all times (so we don’t use our shoulders to breathe). 
  6. This may seem very strange at first, but persevere, it will be your friend throughout the day whenever you feel yourself slipping into ‘sympathetic mode’.
  7. As this becomes easier, start to visualise your lower ribs flare out the side and visualise the lower parts of your lung filling. 

This is a great exercise to stimulate our parasympathetic nervous system, balancing our body and stimulating ‘rest and repair’.

This also mobilises and releases a lot of the connective tissue (fascia) of the organs just underneath the diaphragm, such as the liver and spleen (also helping our immunity). So it’s a win win!


Lyana Nepia

www.thesurreychiropractor.co.uk