Diaphragmatic Breathing for Reducing Stress and Anxiety

Annie Pavone

November 21, 2022


We are always breathing but often times we become unconscious of the breathing process completely. Connecting to our breath is what connects us to life, thus it is important to learn how to breathe in the way we are physiologically designed to. 


Take a breath right now. Was it into the upper chest? Most breathe this way, with short shallow breaths. This way of breathing gives your body much less oxygen and stimulates the sympathetic nervous system. Our sympathetic nervous system regulates our fight-or-flight response which causes the release of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol puts strain on our adrenal glands and eventually takes a negative toll on our whole body. We need to train ourselves to start breathing consciously again to gain the benefits of naturally deep relaxed breath.

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From Stress Breathing to Peace Breathing

The opposite of the sympathetic nervous system is the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to slow down specific responses, bringing about a state of restful calmness to the body, allowing it to relax and repair itself. Diaphragmatic Breathing activates this peaceful mode and brings about healing in the body.


The diaphragm is the dome-shaped muscle at the base of your lungs and the most efficient muscle for breathing. During Diaphragmatic Breathing, you take conscious deep breaths using the diaphragm, allowing the lungs to function at 100% capacity. These deep breaths fill the lungs with air, push down on the diaphragm and push the tummy outward. 


One thing to mention is that you have to relax the body to truly breathe into the abdomen. If we are tense, the breath will continue to go into the chest area.

Diaphragmatic Breathing = Relaxation

Set the intention to let go of any tension in the body. Let yourself know you are safe and that it is ok to relax. Affirm this with every breath. This practice can bring up many emotions and it is helpful to feel them and express them. The practice of Diaphragmatic Breathing teaches us to simply to breathe deeply in a relaxed way. As simple as the practice is, it is foundational for every other breathwork practice.


1. Sit in a comfortable position or lie flat on a comfortable, flat surface. Lying down can feel more comfortable at first when getting the hang of this exercise.


2. Relax the shoulders.


3. Take your hands and put one your chest and one on your stomach.


4. Breathe in through your nose for about 5 1/2 seconds (this is the recommended length of inhalation).

If it is difficult try 4 or 3 and work up to 5 1/2. Feel the air moving through your nostrils into your abdomen, making your stomach expand. You should feel your stomach moving outward and keep your chest relatively still.


5. Let go and exhale slowly for about 6 seconds.


6. Repeat these steps for as long as you need.

Practice this exercise but remember this is our natural way of breathing. Take this practice into your daily life. You don’t have to be rigid with the timing but throughout your day remind yourself to breathe into the belly, not the chest.

Read Last Week's Blog Here

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Diaphragmatic breathing can help several conditions that cause symptoms that affect how you breathe including:

   • Anxiety.

   • Stress.

   • Asthma.

   • COPD.


You can use Diaphragmatic Breathing to help with certain conditions. Practice this technique along with other treatments recommended by your healthcare provider.



Benefits of Diaphragmatic Breathing

• Helps bring about relaxation

• Improves muscle function during

  exercises and prevents strain

• Increases oxygen in the blood

• Makes it easier for the lungs to release

  gas waste

• Helps with the symptoms of PTSD

• Helps reduces blood pressure

• Helps reduces heart rate

• Strengthens the diaphragm

• Slows the rate of breathing so your body

  uses less effort and expends less energy

• Decreasing oxygen demand



Breathe into the belly, not the chest.


Remember Diaphragmatic Breathing is our natural way of breathing. Take this practice into your daily life. You don’t have to be rigid with the timing but throughout your day remind yourself:

Breathe into the belly, not the chest.

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A Personal Invitation from Ambaya


Dear friends and family, I would like to invite you to take a look at this site, The Circle of Life, and take advantage of this great opportunity which is free. I find it extremely valuable at this time given everything in the world.


This practice of Tai Chi Gung has benefited me greatly in all physical, mental and Spiritual ways and I would like for you to be aware of it and if it touches your heart, try it, see where and how it moves you forward in your life.


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