Diaphragmatic breathing for deep core activation

relaxation pose

For lots of reasons, many of us don’t use our diaphragms as well as we could and it has a direct impact on our core & pelvic floor strength & ability to stabilise our bodies as we move. Some medical conditions will affect how a person breathes, but also breathing patterns can be impacted by posture, surgery, stress & anxiety (short, shallow breathing), social media nonsense (eg. ‘belly breathing’ which cannot be a thing because your lungs are not in your belly!) and lack of awareness.

If you want a stronger/more effective core you need to use your diaphragm when you inhale and exhale.

On the inhale the ribs need to get wider (in all directions but especially widthways) and the belly will be soft but not distended. On the exhale, as the ribs become narrower again, the deep-lying transversus abdominus & pelvic floor muscles also contract. Everything will be beautifully synchronised. 

BUT if the ribs don’t get wider on the inhale, the deep abdominal muscles are not activated on the exhale AND other muscles will have to be recruited to draw air into the lungs so we will create tightness in the neck, upper chest, shoulders, etc… In this instance, everything will not be beautifully synchronised. 

Finding your breath:

I made a short video from the start of our functional pilates class last week, looking at breathing and engaging the deep abdominal muscles – you can find it here if you are interested in knowing more & having a guided practice with me. 

Once you understand the mechanics of breathing, the best way to change how we breathe (if we need to) is to tune-in and notice how we’re breathing already.

Find a comfortable position and breathe. If you can’t really feel what’s going on, you could sit in front of a mirror to see what is happening. It’s hard not to try too hard! Make sure you relax, give yourself a bit of time to see if you can find a natural synchronised rhythm in your breathing. And keep checking-in at moments during your day until a diaphragmatic breathing pattern becomes more intuitive and second-nature to you.

Let me know if you have any questions or need any help with this.