The difference between chest and belly breathing is like day and night. Chest breathing activates the “fight or flight” state, and tenses our necks, shoulders and throats. Whereas belly breathing, encourages us into the healing, “rest and digest” state. It uses the diaphragm to draw breath into your lower lungs, rather than using the chest muscles to breathe.
The lower lobes of your lungs contain nerve receptors for your vagus nerve, a key regulator of your body’s relaxation functions. When you breathe deep into your belly, you are expanding your lower lungs, activating your vagus nerve and bringing your body into the parasympathetic “rest and digest” state. This signals to your body that all is well and that you are safe.
This massage moment will show you how to calm your mind and body through breathing.
Time needed: 5 minutes.
How to calm your anxiety, one breath at a time:
- Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach. As you breathe, expand your stomach, not your chest.
- Imagine the breath entering directly into your belly, as if you were breathing from your belly button. Feel your stomach rise and fall.
- Reach your inhale deeper, into your hips. As your spine lengthens, your shoulders are fee to drop.
You were using them to breathe into your chest but now you’re not. Belly breathing is free, easy, and natural.
- Exhale fully between breaths.
For the complete program on how to give yourself a wonderfully relaxing, full body self massage, check out our Whole Body Transformation.