How to Use Your Breath to Change Your Life

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Have you ever noticed how you breathe when you feel relaxed? Take a breath, see where it goes. Go on now, don’t hold back. Does the breath travel down to your belly? We breathe more than any other habit in our life: 22,000 to 25,000 times per day just living. But are you doing it in the most efficient way?

Most of us breathe from our chest. When you took that breath did you notice that majority of your effort came from your upper body?  belly breathing is a deep breathing technique that engages your diaphragm, a dome-shaped sheet of muscle at the bottom of your ribcage that is primarily responsible for respiratory function.


Belly breathing, on the other hand, is a deep breathing technique that engages your diaphragm, a dome-shaped sheet of muscle at the bottom of your ribcage that is primarily responsible for respiratory function. It plays an important role in breathing — though you may not be aware of it.

When you inhale, your diaphragm contracts (tightens) and moves downward. This creates more space in your chest cavity, allowing the lungs to expand. When you exhale, the opposite happens — your diaphragm relaxes and moves upward in the chest cavity.

Belly breathing differs from chest breathing because it’s all about drawing inhales through your nose and all the way down the stomach. As a result, it has a deeper effect. As a result of breathing more conscientiously and deeply, more oxygen begins flowing throughout your body.

Belly breathing differs from chest breathing because it’s all about drawing inhales through your nose and all the way down the stomach.

We already know how to engage the diaphragm when we are born. We know how to take deep, refreshing breaths. As we get older, however, we get out of the habit. Everything from the stress of life to the habit of “sucking in” the stomach for a smaller stomach encourages us to gradually shift to shallower, less beneficial “chest breathing.”

Relearning how to belly breathe is beneficial for everyone. It promotes full oxygen exchange. Not surprisingly, this type of breathing energizes the body, slows the heartbeat, and can lower or stabilize blood pressure.

Belly breathing benefits include:

  • It helps you relax, reducing the damaging effects of the stress on your body.
  • It lowers your chances of injuring or wearing out your muscles.
  • It slows your rate of breathing so that it expends less energy.
  • It lowers your heart rate.
  • It improves your core muscle stability.
  • It improves your body’s ability to tolerate intense exercise.
  • It helps lower your blood pressure.
  • It helps you cope with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • It lowers your chances of injuring or wearing out your muscles.

Because of this newfound airflow and slowing down of the breath, it has a soothing effect on your nerves. There’s some thought that belly breathing is a way of interrupting the fight-or-flight response and triggering the body’s normal relaxation response.

There’s some thought that belly breathing is a way of interrupting the fight-or-flight response and triggering the body’s normal relaxation response.

How to Practice Belly Breathing

Belly breathing is much easier than you’d expect. Check out the video below from Nemours to get started.

How to Practice Belly Breathing - Nemours Children's Health System

Breathing is a beautiful thing. It is one of the only processes in the body done on an unconscious level, like digesting or circulating blood. This is not all to say that you need to train yourself to do belly breathing constantly—it’s just a super useful (and easy!) tool to use in certain scenarios. Taking deep breaths constantly is not required during the day, but it’s good when you need a relaxation response.