According to yogi André van Lysebeth, diaphragmatic breathing is the least tiring, optimal way to breathe calmly. The diaphragm muscle is the most powerful respiratory muscle in the body and can drop eight to twelve centimeters when inhaled.


The exercise of diaphragmatic breathing according to Lysebeth is described here. The ribs should not move and the back should remain relaxed. When the ribs do move, the yogi even recommends a belt to tighten the chest when the body is fully exhaled, so that diaphragmatic breathing can be practiced correctly. Sometimes back problems would arise when practicing especially the abdominal breathing . To counteract this, it is recommended to do the exercise on the back, so that the abdominal muscles relax and the back remains straight. As a result, the back would also remain straight afterwards when sitting or standing. According to Aalten, the back complaints are caused by incorrectly performing the abdominal breathing exercises, in which the back contracts when inhaling, while with properly performed abdominal breathing the entire bottom of the body expands and not just the abdomen. Aalten also speaks of pelvic floor breathing movement.

Applications and usefulness of exercise

In some oriental movement arts and meditation, such as (Chi Kung, Tai chi and yoga), diaphragmatic breathing is an essential part of the training. The combination of diaphragmatic and chest breathing is further consciously applied in song and music. Here it is called breath support. In yoga, diaphragmatic breathing is practiced, because of its relaxing effect.

Comment from physiology

Inhalation occurs by increasing the volume of the chest cavity. The enlargement of the thoracic cavity occurs through flattening of the diaphragm (abdominal breathing) in combination with contraction of the intercostal muscles, pulling the ribs up and out (chest breathing). In addition, the sternocleidomastoid muscle, among other things, can support the upward movement of the rib cage. This is called auxiliary breathing. This auxiliary breathing, here called clavicle breathing, is never separate from the chest breathing, but only serves as a support for it.
Breathing can be done completely unconsciously, under the influence of the brain stem, but also consciously influenced. This conscious influence can shift the emphasis from diaphragmatic flattening to chest breathing. Since brainstem functions are not trainable, breathing training cannot affect unconscious breathing.

See also

breathing technique and pranayama
full breath
chest breathing (also called costal breathing or flank breathing)
collarbone breathing (also called clavicular breathing or high breathing)

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