Belly breathing

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Belly breathing is a deep breathing exercise that can help you relax and manage symptoms. Discover practice tips to help you learn this relaxation technique.

Key points

  • Belly breathing uses the muscles at the bottom of your lungs and in your abdomen to help you breathe deeply.
  • Chest breathing is shallow and can be fast paced, while belly breathing is about deep and slow breaths.
  • Practising belly breathing will help you relax when you are stressed, in pain or feeling nauseous.

What is belly breathing?

Belly breathing is one of the best and easiest ways to relax. It can help you manage pain and nausea and also distract you from unpleasant situations.

Belly breathing is also called abdominal or diaphragmatic (say: dye-a-frag-MAT-ik) breathing because you are using muscles at the bottom of your lungs and in your abdomen (belly) to breathe deeply.

Breathing is an important part of relaxation because our bodies need a constant supply of air to work smoothly. You can use two different ways to breathe in: chest breathing and abdominal (belly) breathing.

  • Chest breathing is the way that we normally breathe. It is shallow and can be fast. When you are stressed or anxious, your chest breathing becomes even faster. You might even feel short of breath. Shallow breathing forces your heart to work harder to move oxygen around your body. This extra effort can lead to other changes in your body such as tense muscles and sweating.
  • Belly breathing is all about breathing slowly and deeply. It involves drawing air deep into the lungs and releasing it slowly. By breathing slowly and deeply, your body will receive enough oxygen and you can start to relax.
Belly Breathing

Practice tips

  • Once you learn to do belly breathing while lying down, practise it the next few times while sitting up in a chair.
  • After that, practise belly breathing standing up with your eyes open.
  • Practise your breathing exercises a few times each day. If you practise one to three times a day, you will learn belly breathing quickly.
  • Belly breathing can be done anywhere, anytime, without anyone knowing that you are doing it.

Remember, the best way to become good at belly breathing is to keep practising. The better you are at belly breathing, the faster you’ll be able to relax when you’re feeling stressed or anxious or having pain. It’s also worth trying belly breathing when you feel strong emotions washing over you or you feel nauseous.

Last updated: September 3rd 2019