Today we’re going to have a quick discussion on belly breathing versus band breathing.
In our curriculum we spend a tremendous amount of time talking about respiration because it is such a powerful tool for brain development, for brain activation, and I also find that there’s a tremendous amount of confusion about good breathing practices, just because of the huge discussion about it, but a lot of times people take shortcuts with their words in order to explain something.
What I want to talk about today is the idea of belly breathing.
I get people coming to courses all the time saying, “Hey I practice respiratory training. I get my clients doing belly breathing.”
Belly breathing basically is this idea that we don’t want you to be (takes a couple breaths) an upper chest breather, we want you to use your abdomen.
But what usually happens, when you have people with disordered respiration, and you tell them, “I want you to belly breathe.” They will continue to use the chest and they will muscularly expand the abdomen, push it in and out because of the word “belly breathing.”
So one of the first things I tell people is, “I want you to do is forget belly breathing. I want you to focus on what we call band breathing.”
In other words whenever we look at the respiratory system what we should see with a nice deep inhalation is a 360 full circle expansion of the lower ribcage with a nice deep breath.
So whenever we start teaching people about breathing I like to use bands.
All right so the simple idea here is you take a nice thick band or a belt and you want to wrap it around the bottom portion of the ribcage.
So if you find your lower ribs, you just wrap there, hold it tight, and the advantage of using a band like this is it gives you good sensory input.
If you go back a few blogs we talk about the importance of sensory before motor.
Many people struggle with good breathing practices because they don’t have good sensory awareness of their entire ribcage.
So the advantage of using a band is this, I can now tighten it down and I can have myself or my clients simply try to breathe (takes a breath) and expand and feel the band being stretched all the way around the bottom part of the ribcage (takes a breath).
What I love about this is, it is a self-correcting exercise because if you’re holding the band and you simply do belly breathing, all that you’ll feel is your hands being pushed forward and almost as if you’re being pulled into extension by the band.
As opposed to (takes a breath) a 360 degree expansion where you’ll feel a relatively even distribution of tension through the band.
So I’m always looking for things that we can give clients to do on their own, to work on their own re-training.
I don’t like having people dependent on me, so our whole curriculum’s designed around really active things that you can give to your clients, so that they can go out and figure out how to do this for themselves.
So again, simple idea here, replace the term belly breathing with band breathing, get some nice thick bands, ropes, belts, whatever you can, give them to your clients, and again have them do this simple exercise.
As soon as they start developing the sensory awareness of what good 360 degree inhalations feel like you can have them then program that into their day, maybe once per hour they take five breaths with the band.
Remember we breathe somewhere between 18 and 25 thousand times a day, most of it’s unconscious.
So in order to improve breathing mechanics we have to spend a little bit of time each day thinking about it, becoming aware of it, and this is a simple easy way to get that done.
Hopefully this works well for you.
If you have any questions about it let us know, otherwise good luck.