Abdominal Breathing Exercises

Abdominal Breathing Exercises

If you struggle with anxiety, abdominal breathing exercises are definitely something you need to learn. These breathing exercises can help cleanse the body of toxins, deliver more oxygen to your brain, and promote an overall sense of calm and collectedness. Abdominal breathing exercises are often used in practices like yoga and qigong to move the body as you’re exercising, but you can do them anywhere and at any time during the day.

Traditional medicine attributes chest breathing – the shallow breathing practiced by the vast majority of adults on a daily basis – to many physical and psychological problems. For one thing, breathing is what’s supposed to purge about 70% of toxins out of our bodies, so if our breathing is inefficient and ineffective, our toxic load ramps up, causing both physical and mental/emotional stress.

If you’ve ever watched the way an infant breaths and tried to mimic this, then you already know something about abdominal breathing exercises. Infants regularly practice them because they’re what are actually natural. As we become stress and rushed in adult life, we start to practice shallower, less effective chest breathing that only moves the upper portion of the chest.

Learn to reclaim that infantile breathing technique through abdominal breathing exercises. They may start out as exercises that you do once or twice a day, but eventually, you can learn to breathe through the belly all the time. Abdominal breathing exercises can become a way of life, and they can help reduce stress and anxiety and promote overall feelings of relaxation, collectedness, and calm.

How to Do Abdominal Breathing Exercises

Since you’ve probably been breathing with your chest for years or decades now, it’s important to use abdominal breathing exercises – following all of the steps – to learn how to breathe properly again. These exercises aren’t difficult, and they shouldn’t be strenuous at all. That’s why I like them so much as a form of anxiety relief. You can do them anywhere, and no one even has to know what you’re doing! Here are some steps to follow to practice these breathing exercises:

  1. Put one hand on your chest and another on your belly. Take a deep breath in, and see what happens. The hand on your belly should rise more than the one on the chest, which will show you that your diaphragm is pulling air all the way to the base of your lungs. If this isn’t what happens take a few natural, deep breaths until it does, so that you can know what abdominal breathing feels like.
  2. Once you’ve got abdominal breathing down, take a slow breath through your nose, and hold it for a count of seven.
  3. Now, exhale slowly through your mouth while counting to eight in a relaxed way. When you’re near the end of the exhalation, contract your abdominals so that you extract all the air from your lungs at the end of the breath.
  4. Repeat the cycle four or five times until you feel calmer and more collected.

At first, abdominal breathing exercises can actually send more oxygen to the brain that it’s used to, which can cause feelings of lightheadedness. Don’t worry! Just start out with a few minutes of the exercise at one time, and then slowly increase the amount of time you spend in these exercises until you can sustain them for ten, fifteen, or even twenty or more minutes.

During the day, stop and do abdominal breathing exercises a few times, simply to remind yourself of the proper way to breathe. In between exercises, you can simply breathe regularly, but try to pull your breath all the way into the bottom of your lungs.