The Importance of the Belly in Natural Breathing

Though there are some who would have us believe that we should always breathe in a specific way, it is important to understand that there is no one correct depth and speed of breathing. Depending on the specific physical, emotional, and mental demands of the moment, our breathing should be able to fluctuate naturally in varying degrees from deep to shallow, and from slow to fast. Part of the ability of our breath to be able to respond appropriately and efficiently to the changing conditions of our lives depends on the involvement of our belly as we breathe.

To be able to breathe in a natural, healthy way, we need to have a belly that is not only strong but also supple. Our belly needs to be able to expand outward on inhalation and retract inward on exhalation. This bellows-like movement of the belly supports the downward and upward movements of the diaphragm. A tight, contracted belly impedes the smooth, full movement of the diaphragm. When the belly can expand effortlessly on inhalation, the diaphragm can move farther downward into the abdomen, allowing the lungs to expand more fully. When the belly can retract effortlessly on exhalation, the diaphragm can move further upward, helping the lungs to expel gases more fully and efficiently.

The increased downward and upward movements of the diaphragm, along with the outward and inward movements of the belly, not only help to slow down our breath rate and enable us to take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide more efficiently with each breath, but they also help to massage all our internal organs, including the heart. This “internal massage” has a healthful influence on all of our internal functions, including digestion, elimination, blood flow, our nerves, and our ability to ward off bacterial and viral invaders.

Belly Breathing Practice

Copyright 2019-15 by Dennis Lewis

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