Abdominal Breathing for Better Living

If you’re not breathing, you’re not living. Literally.

And if you’re not breathing well; you’re not living as well as you could be.

If you pay attention to your breath, you can learn a lot about how you’re taking life in.  The breath is an amazing instrument for reporting the state of your internal weather systems.  Take a moment to close your eyes and observe your breath.  How would you describe your current internal ‘weather’?  Calm, warm sunny skies? High winds and thunder showers?  Once you’ve answered the question, read on.

Your breath is the link between your conscious and unconscious mind.

Amazingly, by taking control of your breath you can exert a measure of control over the state of your mind and emotions – you can control the weather inside!

If you are living in a state of chronic stress, your breath is likely shallow, rapid and clipped.  You can actually choose to use shallow rapid breathing to induce a state of stress and anxiety, shifting your nervous system into fight or flight mode (sympathetic nervous system dominance).

Go ahead, try it!

You don’t want to live your life breathing this way.  When the sympathetic nervous system dominates, adrenaline goes surging through the blood stream overtaxing your systems, putting you on edge and impeding the body’s ability to repair itself.

Conversely, you can address states of stress and anxiety by breathing deeply into the belly.  This down-regulates the nervous system (activating the parasympathetic nervous system) and stimulates the body’s relaxation response.  When the parasympathetic nervous system dominates the body heals and repairs itself and the mental/emotional weather pattern is calm and still.

Breathe better; feel better; heal better; live better.

If we can choose how we breathe (and we can!), we should opt for deep, abdominal breathing in times of stress.

Watch our stress relief videos instantly.

Read how to breath away stress.

Read more about your diaphragm.

About This Author

It was love at first Sun Salutation for Amanda Tripp ... who was introduced to yoga as a teen when her mom brought home a video. Eventually, she sought out living, breathing teachers to help direct and deepen her practice. Her teachers have been inspirational; her yoga practice: transformational. Amanda felt the call to share the healing benefits of practice with others and completed a 250-hour teacher training program at the Yoga Centre of Burlington. Continuing studies led her to the work of Jill Miller and certification as a Yoga Tune Up® teacher. Amanda's classes speak to the body, breath, mind and heart as she guides students toward greater ease of being.

Abdominal Breathing for Better Living

  1. I teach a free stress-relief class at my office once a month. On Friday I only had 1 student, which gave me a great opportunity to really OBSERVE how she was breathing. When I instructed her to breath into her belly, it was if her mind could not even make sense of it. I watched her whole rib cage elevate.

    Since yoga is such a big part of my life, it was very eye-opening to me to see how alien belly breathing is to non-yogis! I used the example that we were taught in class – to think about how a baby breathes. That really helped her identify with what the goal. She had never heard before that belly breathing could help her control that internal weather pattern!

  2. Heidi Schaul-Yoder says:

    I love this: “Your breath is the link between your conscious and unconscious mind.” Great explanation for how belly breathing affects the nervous system!

  3. Rick Widdifield says:

    Simple yet profound advice. A good reminder of the amazing power of conscious breathing. Love the weather metaphor. We just need to be our own weatherman and know that whatever fronts are coming through we have a measure of control when we remember the power of the breath.

  4. Kathy Shaul says:

    This is a must-read reminder for all of us. Our breath is such a powerful, portable and free addition to our self-care kit. Thank you Amanda for sharing this simple and effective way to chill out!

  5. Susan Jaffee says:

    Well said, Amanda! After all these years in yoga I am just beginning to learn how anxiety and stress has impacted my breathing. Until recently, I hadn’t understood how I could heal in my body just by using my breath.

  6. Sarah R says:

    Thank you Amanda, I love the analogy of weather to breath and our internal state of mind. You’ve provided some great techniques for people to practice breath awareness and management.

  7. Sharon says:

    I always enjoy reading and learning about the breath, and hearing other folk’s descriptions. Love the concept of your internal weather system. Change your breath, change the weather 😉 In addition to yoga, I am a Pilates instructor and this idea reminds me of Joseph Pilates who called his method an “internal shower.” Thanks for the post!

  8. Alisa Fairbanks says:

    The breath is such a simple and powerful tool, yet so many people struggle with it and don’t know how to use it properly. It all starts with consciously paying attention and observing, especially in those stressful situations. We can make it better for ourselves always (and better for others too since conscious breath will help us respond versus react)!

  9. Nancy Neuenhagen says:

    Breath and breath control is something I am becoming more aware of and want to learn more about. I often attend to the breath of the clients I work with. Working with infants, their breathing patterns are and important source of information about how they are feeling and tolerating my interventions.
    I am often unaware of my own breath until I notice I have been holding my breath or need to sigh deeply. My stress and tension frequently shows up in my breath and breath control..holding my breath, quiet voice, clearing my throat. I need to learn to breath more consciously and realize the powerful calming benefits of this practice. It is a work in progress.

  10. Suncana says:

    So important to know! So many people don’t understand fight or flight vs rest and digest for their nervous system and how the breath can help!

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