Breathing is to supply oxygen to generate energy by breaking down carbs from diet and release carbon dioxide just like any fossil fuel burning.
In our body, there is a muscle called diaphragm which is for breathing. However, people have tendency to use shoulder and chest for breathing rather than using diaphragm.
Imagine what could happen if a muscle is not being used. It will get weaker and weaker and our body will try to use other muscles to breathe. Then the efficiency will drop.
This publication from PonderEd is to provide the systematic approach to train diaphragm to maximize the capacity and function. There are many reasons behind, and those stories will be on YouTube biology lectures.
Simple biological facts about breathing.
- Lungs are not muscles. They are like balloons. They don’t move by themselves.
- Lungs are in a vacuum chamber.
- When diaphragm moves downward, it increases space in the vacuum chamber for the lungs to expand and suck the air in.
- As diaphragm moves upward, it squeezes the lungs to push out air.
Check point before starting
- Do you use chest and shoulder when you are breathing?
You will have to start from the beginning and follow the step by step instruction.
- Do you breathe using your belly but don’t feel diaphragm?
You can skip the level 1 training and start from level 2 (lower belly breathing method)
- You can feel diaphragm moves downward when you are breathing in?
If so, you can start from level 3 training (inhale by pushing diaphragm down)
- Do you feel diaphragm moves up when you are breathing out?
Level 4 training (exhale by pushing diaphragm up)
Step by step diaphragm training methods
Level 1 training (Belly breathing)
This is well known method. Just breath in and out by moving your stomach muscles.
The diaphragm is still moving as your belly moves. It is still not active use of diaphragm but at least the diaphragm will start to build some strength.
- Inhale by pushing your belly muscles outward and exhale by releasing the muscles naturally.
- 3 times a day (wake up, break, and before sleeping) 15 minutes each for about 3 months.
- As you get used to it, try to do this whenever you have chances.
- Increase amount of air during the breathing.
- Strengthen diaphragm.
- More oxygen meaning more effective energy production.
- More oxygen meaning more effective use of carbohydrates.
- Before bedtime, trying this will help fall asleep if you can make your brain focus on your belly movement.
Level 2 training (Exhale by lower belly breathing)
Similar to the hypogastric breathing (pushing the lower belly outward as inhale, similar to belly breathing but using lower belly instead) that are being used by mostly monks. But exactly opposite.
Hypogastric breathing suggests to move lower belly out as you inhale. But this method is to exhal by pushing lower belly inward instead. This will make your stomach area also moves and push the diaphragm up more than usual.
People generally focus on breathing in rather than breathing out. Since the lungs are working by negative pressure, squeezing out the air as much as possible from the lung will provide more negative pressure for the lungs when they expand so that more air comes in.
- Breath in by belly breathing as in level 1.
- Make sure to straight your back (don’t bend).
- Just before breath out, squeeze anus and urethra muscles.
- When breath out, start pushing lower belly to your back as much as possible.
- Do this every day 3 times a day for about 3 months (wake up, break, and before sleeping).
- As you get used to it, try to do this whenever you have chances.
- Try to practice as slow as possible and increase time to exhale as you are getting used to it.
- Diaphragm build more strength.
- If this method is applied when speaking (general, presentation, speech etc.), lower part from the vocal code will open wider and feels like the sound is coming from the chest for the listeners. In this way, you can build skills of speech.
Level 3 training (Inhale by lowering diaphragm muscles)
If you have done the level 1 and 2 training properly, you should be able to start feeling diaphragm movement especially when it moves downward.
Now is the time to use diaphragm independently at least when inhale. By doing this, the diaphragm started to build more strength and you can start to use it actively.
- Sit and make your back strait.
- Breath in by lowering diaphragm as much as possible. At this point, you should be able to feel the limit of your diaphragm where it cannot go down any more.
- Your belly will rise up a little just like when you breathe by using belly muscles. But the difference is that your belly moves out because your diaphragm push your organs downward – NOT because you move your belly outward.
- When exhale, apply level 2 methods.
- Do this every day 3 times a day for about 3 months (wake up, break, and before sleeping) for about 15 minutes each.
- As you get used to it, try to push down further and further.
- Try to do this when you are doing any type of slow movement exercise (walking, weight training, yoga etc.)
- If you are a smoker, you probably breathing in deeper when you are smoking. Stop smoking is difficult not just because of chemicals but also because of the habit of inhaling. By using diaphragm, you can compensate the smoking habit in some level.
- If you are on a diet, can control the amount of the food because you can feel the stomach.
Level 4 training (Exhaling by pushing up diaphragm, lower belly, and back muscles)
Everything is the same except the addition of the muscle to use. This time use muscles in the back when breathing out.
- Sit and make your body strait up.
- Squeeze and release anus and urethra muscles as you breathe (relax inhale, squeeze exhale).
- Breath in slowly by lowering diaphragm as much as possible.
- Breath out by pushing your lower belly toward your back.
- As you push your lower belly, squeeze your back muscle to support diaphragm to move up (your back should be straight and muscles in the back have to be squeezed).
- Try to push up as much as possible by using lower belly, back, and diaphragm.
- Do this whenever you can in everyday life.
Level 5 training (using diaphragm for breathing)
It is time to use diaphragm muscle for breathing in and out.
- Make your body strait.
- Breathing in by using diaphragm muscle downward as mentioned above.
- Breathing out by using diaphragm upward.
- This time the difference is that you use diaphragm first and belly and other muscles follow next.
- You will be able to feel that lower belly and muscles of anus and urethra are more spontaneously moving as you push up the diaphragm.
- Once you are able to feel the diaphragm, synchronize all the muscle movement to make maximum efficiency.
All life forms are designed to live against resistance such as gravity, water flow, wind, etc. by using energy. This means that loosing muscle strength is indication of inactivation of life form.