Last week we explored the differences between diaphragmatic and apical breathing. At the end, I talked about a simple way to determine which type of breather you are. Today we’re going to take it a step further. Regardless of which type of breather you found yourself to be, these 7 steps are a quick and great way to easily get your diaphragm either working again or working better.
If you didn’t get a chance to check out last week’s post, I suggest taking a look here before reading on.
First off, in order to perform today’s exercise all that is needed is a standard balloon. You can easily pick up a pack at your local dollar store.
When starting to blow up a brand-new balloon most individuals will unconsciously utilize their diaphragm (by blowing out their belly) to create the necessary pressure to get the balloon started. What’s more when maintaining the pressure inside the balloon to keep blowing it up they stabilize their chest, thus limiting the amount of apical movement utilized. That is why controlled balloon breathing is a great next step to the “high-low” breathing technique detailed in last week’s post.
Check out the full exericse technique in this video. Then we’ll break it down step by step. Make sure to note that only his belly is moving!
Step by Step Breakdown
- Begin by laying on your back in a hook laying position (knees bend to 90 degrees with feet flat) with your back flat.
- Seal the balloon in your lips using your left hand to hold the balloon in place. Unlike the video you may either place your right hand above your head or rest it just below your belly button as in the high-low breathing technique.
- Breathe deeply through your nose to fill your belly with as much air as you can.
- Forcefully blow the air out to get the balloon started blowing up.
- Breathe in again ONLY through your nose to fill your belly.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 (as depicted in the picture below) about 5-7 times till the balloon is fully filled.
- Release the balloon and relax.
Note: Make sure your lips stay sealed around the balloon the entire exercise.
Repeating this exercise for about 5 minutes every day will begin to get your diaphragm working again. As soon as this begins to get easier, just like the high-low breathing, you can try balloon breathing in a seated position, then standing, then balancing on one leg, etc. Progressing in exercise difficulty will help you maintain a diaphragmatic breath no matter what life throws your way.