Over 30 muscles participate on breathing. Breathing in habitual and automatized muscle work, like walking. If we have adopted busy lifestyle (if we feel busy all the time) most probably the breathing is busy also. When breathing is habitually stressed, upper breathing muscles are overactive and muscles in the stomach area and diaphragm are inactivated and tensed, because exhales are not there to release tensions.
Normal breathing doesn’t require excess muscle work, but is small (still going deep) effective and silent. Then the relation of oxygen and carbon dioxide in blood and cells is optimal. Exhale is supposed to last a bit longer than inhale. Inhale is active, while exhaling is not supposed be forced. In exhale muscles contract and release tension. It should feel relaxing, like the air would blow out naturally because of gravity. I can often hear people actively blowing air out while exhaling. This kind of habit affects on mind and brain also, creating a feeling of unease and nervousness.
Everyone knows than when one is not sick and stressed, the body works in a relaxed manner. We feel better and balanced. The way we breath affects our brain chemistry. Also the other way around, if we think stressful thoughts and worry every day, how we will survive this day, it will change our breathing patterns in years timespan. We won’t even notice that we lost our ability to breathe deeply and normally. Our body and mind are here totally interrelated.
According to many psychologist most people don’t breathe in a way that would be best for their health and longevity. Breathing at its best could be deep, unobstructed, relaxed and powerful at the same time. But don’t worry, by becoming aware of your habits and practicing you can always change your patterns. I have been told, and that would be my own experience too, that then one needs to practice breathing awareness at least twice a day, for months or years, to make changes.
Balanced breathing has a lot of good outcomes. It effects on cells ability to receive enough (not too little or too much) oxygen, blood circulation and all organs and bodily functions, effecting e.g., color of your face skin, asthmatic symptoms, snoring, digesting (stress breathing marks state of emergency, which shuts down the digestion). When you activate your diaphragm, often chronical tensions in lower back and stomach can slowly start relieving, which can effect on e.g. back pains.
In this exercise you job is to observe your breathing.
Take your other hand on your chest and the other on your diaphragm. Observe, is your diaphragm is moving towards and away from your hand. Don’t try to move your diaphragm. Instead tell yourself, that right now you don’t have to do anything. Your inly job is to sit here and breath. You can relax and surrender. Then observe, if it effects on your breathing.
When you have done some observation and if you notice need to pull air in with the muscles around your lungs and chest, try to do the following. After exhaling, smoothly hold back the next inhale, wait, until you notice that your diaphragm activates. It doesn’t usually happen instantly, but try it a few times to wait an inhale impulse from your diaphragm. Wait a while but not too long, it can get a little uncomfortable but not too much. Then just breath as you do normally and try again after a few breaths.