The diaphragm is the muscle in between the ribs that is used for breathing. Like any muscle, if you haven’t been using it fully, it will weaken. To strengthen this muscle, you can work with what’s called diaphragmatic breathing.
Doing this exercise will not only strengthen the diaphragm, but it will release pressure in the low back. Much of lower back pain is due to the fact that our back has to compensate, or take over, for the opposite side, our weak abdominal muscles. You strengthen in the diaphragm area, then the back doesn’t have to work overtime anymore.
The diaphragm muscle is also connected to all the abdominal muscles. Many people get flatter tummies when they breathe properly. Not only does oxygen burn fat, but it also lifts the ribs up away from the hips, stretching and lengthening the abdominal muscles. You will be happy to know that many people who begin yoga and deep breathing exercises stop doing all the sit ups and belly crunches (because as we can see, they only work certain muscles in this area), and get slimmer and more tone in the abdominal area.
- Releases pressure in the lower back.
- Strengthens the abdominal muscles
- Decreases the work of breathing by slowing your breathing rate
- Decreases oxygen demand
- Helps you use less effort and energy to breathe
When to practice:
- In the morning right when you wake up, and at night right before you go to sleep.
- When you feel stressed.
- On a daily basis
When to avoid:
Melanie-- I couldn’t find when NOT to practice it
How to perform:
To practice, lie on the stomach comfortably. Raise the head and chest until you are resting on the bottom ribs and diaphragm. You will know that you are breathing in the belly correctly when your body raises on your inhale and lowers on the exhale.