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Belly breathing

– finding a safe space

A lovely exercise is belly breathing, which is our natural relaxed breath. If you see animals and children when they’re sleeping and relaxed, they naturally barely breathe. 

It encourages the lower ribs to extend out. So it enables the diaphragm to really go down deeply, which allows more air to come in and more air to go out. 

It switches off amygdala activity as it sends messages to the nervous system saying, «I am safe.» 

It tones the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is a long nerve, the parasympathetic nervous system that comes out of the brainstem, and goes down through the heart and the lungs into the tummy. But it also branches up into the voice box and into the face. 

Belly breathing helps with sleep. It helps with pain relief, and it helps us to sit with difficult emotions as we just sit with a hand on our belly. It enables us to be with ourselves. So often with anxiety there’s a turning outwards. It enables us to turn it into resourcefully being with ourselves.

Let’s connect with belly breathing. Place your hand on your belly, pushing your belly into your hand as you breathe in, which is holding the vagus nerve. As we touch the vagus nerve, what’s called the vagal brake happens, and it slows the heart rate down. 

As you’re belly breathing, you might notice some tummy gurgling. And those are indicators that your digestive system has got some blood going into it and is able to work and move.