Are you engaging your diaphragm?

The ultimate checklist for proper breathing:
  • use your nose
  • engage your diaphragm
The diaphragm is the main breathing muscle. When you breathe in, the diaphragm contracts down and the intercostal muscles—the muscles between your ribs— move out. The pressure in your chest goes down and air moves into the lungs.

With each  inhale, the aim is to saturate blood with oxygen—O2— and then distribute the oxygen rich blood to the organs and tissues. 

During an exhale, the process works in the other direction: Carbon dioxide—CO2— rich blood from the organs comes into the lungs. The diaphragm relaxes up, intercostal muscles move in thereby decreasing the pressure in your chest and you let the air in your lungs out.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, the gas exchange O2 ⇄ CO2 happens in the alveoli. The lower parts of the lungs carry more blood than air just because of gravity. This means the deeper you can get the air into the lungs, the better the oxygenation of the blood.

With nasal breathing you slow down your breath. There's more resistance to airflow in the nasal cavity than in your mouth. You're also more likely to engage your diaphragm during nasal breathing. And by taking longer, deeper breaths you'll achieve greater O2 uptake in the blood.

We've come full circle:
For effective breathing
  • use your nose
  • engage your diaphragm
And remember, the more often you use your nose and your diaphragm, the easier it will become to do so effectively.

You take thousands of breaths every day. It's worth doing it correctly.

Stay healthy, stay happy.

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