Mindful Breathing: Diaphragmatic or Belly Breathing

In this video, Dr. Sabrina A. Stutz, a pediatric psychologist at CHOC leads you on a diaphragmatic breathing exercise. Diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing, is a kind of deep breathing that lowers heart rate and blood pressure, and helps our bodies and mind relax. Diaphragmatic breathing uses our diaphragms, a dome-shaped muscle under our lungs, to help get more air in our lungs and more oxygen to our bodies and brains.

Hi, my name is Dr. Sabrina Stutz and I’m a pediatric psychologist at CHOC Children’s Hospital. Today, I’m going to teach you about diaphragmatic or belly breathing in order to help with stress reduction.

First, find a comfortable seat with your back against a chair and your feet flat on the floor. Or you can choose to lie down flat on the floor or on your bed. Take one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly and I want you to imagine like your belly is a balloon and when you inhale you’re filling up the balloon with air so your belly will expand. Then when you exhale, you’ll use your tummy muscles to push the air out of the balloon as you breathe out.

So when you inhale, your belly and your hand on your belly will move out and when you exhale, that will go back down and your belly will go in. In this kind of breathing, we don’t use our chest very much at all, so you’ll try to keep the hand on your chest from moving very much while most of the movement will happen from your hand on your belly.

Let’s try a couple together. We’ll inhale for four and we’ll exhale for four. So we’re going to inhale into our belly balloon. Ready set go: two, three, four, and exhale. Push all that air out: two, three, four.

If you notice your chest moving around that’s okay. In some of the next breathing exercises, try to breathe down into your belly and relax your chest. Relax your shoulders and soften your belly muscles. Let’s try again. We’ll inhale: two, three, four, and exhale: two, three, four, and inhale: two, three, four, and exhale: two, three, four. One more time. We’ll inhale: two, three, four, and exhale: two, three, four.

Remember to try this in groups of ten throughout your day or at least one time a day, so that you can train your diaphragm to get stronger and make this kind of breathing easier for you. Also remember that this kind of exercise is helpful for people of any age, so you can feel free to practice as a family or teach your friends.