Diaphragmatic Breathing: Techniques and Instructions
By Dr. Artour Rakhimov, Alternative Health Educator and Author - Medically Reviewed by Naziliya Rakhimova, MD - Last updated on August 9, 2018
Note. This website uses the words "diaphragmatic breathing" and
"abdominal breathing" interchangeably (as synonyms). Technically
speaking, there are separate groups of muscles that can stretch or
expand the lower parts of the lungs. However, since the purpose of breathing
retraining is to improve body O2 during automatic breathing (not
during breathing exercises only), this division of diaphragmatic breathing
and abdominal breathing is practically insignificant. When people have
low O2 content in body cells (less than 20 s for the body O2 test),
they suffer from chronic chest breathing. With a certain better result
for body O2 in the morning (after sleep), Nature ensures diaphragmatic
breathing 24/7 (details are below). Many yoga teachers, however, teach
about divisions and even subdivisions of abdominal and diaphragmatic
breathing, but they do not know and do not teach their students about
the purpose of yoga. These are usually
the same yoga teachers who claim that breathing more air improves body O2
and that CO2 is toxic waste gas.
Many modern yoga teachers can teach diaphragmatic breathing exercises for years, yet their pupils will not have automatic diaphragmatic breathing during sleep or at rest. The reason is very simple. Their methods do not address the cause of chest breathing: too fast and too large breathing causing low body and brain oxygenation. This page explains how to get basal diaphragmatic breathing.
Diaphragmatic breathing 24/7 is necessary for ideal oxygenation of
the arterial blood (about 98-99%) and efficient lymphatic drainage of abdominal
organs (up to 60% of all lymph nodes are located just under the diaphragm). This video provides more information about these effects. (Dr. Artour Rakhimov teaches a live class.)
ideal automatic breathing pattern at rest is very slow, light, and mainly
abdominal (diaphragmatic breathing). Such small diaphragmatic breathing
increases oxygenation of the human body.
Yoga masters and a few other exceptional people have only 3 small
diaphragmatic breaths per minute at rest (during unconscious breathing). This
corresponds to about 3 minutes for the body-oxygen test and over 8 minutes for
maximum breath holding time.
When we breathe more than the medical norm at rest
(that is only 12 small diaphragmatic breaths per
minute with about 500 ml for one breath), it is called hyperventilation. If deep
diaphragmatic breathing causes CO2 losses, it is called "hyperventilation".
Hyperventilation or deep diaphragmatic breathing reduces oxygen delivery to
all vital organs in the human body.
Note that sick people breathe about 2-3 times more than the medical norm and
suffer from low CO2 in the lungs and reduced O2 levels in body cells (see links
below). You may have a brief moment of even additional hyperventilation (on top
of what you have now) when surprised.
On this page, you will find diaphragmatic breathing exercises
and techniques, but let's begin with a simple test for diaphragmatic
breathing and the cause of chest breathing in modern people.
How to test your own breathing technique
How to check one's predominant
automatic breathing technique? Do you
usually breathe using the belly and diaphragm or chest at rest?
Self-test or simple breathing exercise.Put one hand on your stomach (or abdomen) and the other one on your
upper chest (see the picture on the right). Relax completely so that
your breathing dynamic has little changes. (We want to know more about
your usual unconscious breathing.) Pay attention to your breathing for
about 20-30 seconds. Take 2-3 very slow but deep breaths to feel your
breathing in more detail.
Now you know about your usual breathing technique. In order to
be certain, you can ask other people to observe how you breathe when
you do not pay attention to your breathing (e.g., during sleep, while
reading, studying, etc.).
Abdominal breathing exercises and techniques
Here are three abdominal breathing exercises to test and
develop diaphragmatic breathing.
Exercise 1. Diaphragmatic breathing exercise to check your ability to move the diaphragm
Diaphragmatic breathing exercise 1: Check your ability to move
Put your hands on your body as in the picture above.
Try to push out your lower hand (which is on the belly button or navel)
with your abdominal muscles. Can you breathe using your belly only so
that your rib cage and upper hand do not move?
Warning. It is vital for your health, abdominal breathing, good blood oxygenation, and
respiratory and GI health to have a straight spine 24/7. Correct
posture encourages abdominal breathing, while slouching prevents belly
Exercise 2. Abdominal respiratory exercises with books
Take 2-3 medium weight books or one large phone book and lie down on your
back with the books on your tummy. Focus on your breathing and change
the way you breathe so that
1) you can lift the books up about 2-3 cm (1 inch) with each inhalation and then relax to exhale (the books will go down when you relax to exhale)
2) your rib cage does not expand during inhalations.
Repeat this diaphragmatic
breathing exercise for about 3-5 minutes before your main breathing exercises to
reconnect your conscious brain with the diaphragm. You can practice
this exercise for some days until you are sure that diaphragmatic
breathing is the usual way to breathe during the breathing sessions.
For some people with persistently tense diaphragms, who in
addition have problems with slouching and constipation, magnesium can
be an additional assisting factor. (A lack of magnesium leads to
spasm and tension in body muscles.)
If the diaphragm is still not the main muscle for your
automatic breathing, and/or you have doubts about your ability to keep
your chest relaxed during breathing exercises, apply this ultimate solution.
Exercise 3. Abdominal breathing technique with a belt
You can use a strong belt to restrict your rib cage and
force the diaphragm to be the main breathing muscle using the
Put a belt around your lower ribs (in the middle of the trunk)
and buckle it tightly so that you cannot take a deep inhalation using
your rib cage or chest. Now for slow deep inhalations, your body needs to use
your tummy (or abdomen). Try it. While leaving the belt in place for
some minutes or even hours, you can acquire diaphragmatic breathing and
This breathing retraining process will be faster if you focus
your attention on your breathing and try to practice Buteyko reduced
breathing with very light air hunger (taking small
inhalations using your diaphragm and then
immediately relaxing it). The focus of attention makes nervous links
between your conscious mind and the diaphragm reinforced so that you
can regain control of this muscle.
When you pay attention to your breathing, be careful not to
hyperventilate. Breathe slowly and remain relaxed so that even if your
inhalations deepen, your CO2 will not lessen.
Do you know that there is one nutrient that helps to relax the diaphragm and learn diaphragmatic breathing much faster? More details about this nutrient and how to check your deficiency using a special test are provided as your bonus content right below here.
Tweet or Share this page to reveal the bonus content.
You need to restore a light and easy automatic breathing
pattern or normalize your breathing in order to have abdominal
breathing 24/7. What are the most effective abdominal breathing
techniques? Hatha yoga and the Buteyko breathing technique helps to
prevent chest breathing. There are even more effective ways listed below.
Advanced abdominal respiration exercises for unblocking
The easiest way, however, to increase the CP and release or unblock the
diaphragm 24/7 is to use breathing devices, such as the
Frolov breathing device and the Amazing DIY breathing
device. If one has problems with abdominal breathing when
using these devices, it is smart to use the belt technique for
breathwork. After a few days of such practice, most people can easily
involve the diaphragm for breathwork.
Why modern people do not have abdominal respiration
Modern people breathe about 2 times more air than the medical
norm (see Homepage for details). Hyperventilation causes alveolar hypocapnia (CO2 deficiency),
which reduces blood flow and oxygenation of the diaphragm muscle, while
arterial hypocapnia makes smooth and skeletal muscles tense, the
diaphragm included. If you were to take a close look at some old
movies, you would hardly see any chest breathing at all. This is
because people in the past had only 4-5 L/min for minute ventilation at
rest (modern numbers are about 12 L/min for normal subjects).
Hyperventilation makes modern people oxygen deficient (see instructions
for the body-oxygen test below) and this makes them chest breathers. Therefore,
automatic (unconscious) diaphragmatic breathing is very rare these days. How to achieve automatic diaphragmatic breathing? This 2-min video provides the goal (criteria) to achieve.
Abdominal Respiration vs. Chest Breathing
and Body-Oxygen Content
Automatic breathing at rest:
diaphragmatic or chest?
Virtually always chest
Chest in over 90% of people
over 41 s
Virtually always belly
we see from this Table, diaphragmatic breathing usually becomes the
norm (24/7), when the morning body-oxygen level (CP) is over 30 s. It
is logical then that people in the past (about 100 years ago or more)
had abdominal breathing 24/7 because they had more than 40 s for the
Since relatively healthy people have only about 20-25
s CP these days, most people are chest breathers.