Breathing Techniques to Calm Your Belly
Do you ever notice how your stomach hurts when you’re stressed or anxious? Check out these gut health & breathing techniques to calm your belly. We will cover a few different breathing exercises for stress.
What Is the Gut?
First, we need to understand what the gut is. Before knowing how it is connected to diaphragm exercises. The gut is also referred to as the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Within the GI tract, also includes the mouth, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, esophagus, and colon. As you can see already, there is much more to the gut than you may have first thought. The gut is so much more than the stomach. As it is connected with the stomach, some techniques of breathing helps digestion. To put it simply, the gut is all the digestive organs breaking down foods together.
Breathing helps digestion and anyone who is experiencing issues with their GI tract. Many different diaphragm exercises have benefits. By focusing on diaphragm breathing exercises and deep breathing exercises for stress, it can help the body to relax. During diaphragm exercises, the stomach moves with every breath. The benefits of deep breathing exercises for stress include:
- Lower heart rate
- Warm hands and feet
- Improved concentration
- Increased blood oxygenation
- Reduction in stress hormones
- And much more
Our belly breathing exercise creates gentle massaging actions that are felt by the internal organs. Internal organs like the intestines and stomach. This can reduce any abdominal pain, constipation, and bloating you are experiencing. As a result, diaphragm breathing exercises have a multitude of digestive benefits.
Stress can negatively affect that state of your microbiome due to the intimate connection between the gut and the nervous system. We want to keep stress at a minimum in order to digest our food well and support the live bacteria and fungi in the gut. To get a better understanding of how stress is related to the microbiome, be sure to check out our blog post on how stress impacts your gut health.
In addition to maintaining the use of your probiotic and prebiotic supplements, it’s important to check in on your lifestyle to see how it affects your health. Even when we eat healthy foods and take our supplements, we are doing ourselves a disservice if we don’t take care of ourselves mentally. Not getting enough sleep, working too many hours, and allowing ourselves to get stressed out easily are detrimental to our overall health, but these bad habits are particularly harmful to the microbiome.
When we’re stressed, our digestive system shuts down so that we can put all of our energy into addressing the stressful situation. This was helpful for our ancestors in life-or-death scenarios, but in today’s society, our bodies react in the same way too much less important, non-life-threatening situations. As a result, stressful lifestyles can compromise our gut health.
Minimizing stress in combination with probiotics and prebiotic supplements will result in a digestive system that runs smoothly. You will experience little to no bloating, your mind will become more focused and creative, and your body will be better able to absorb nutrients from your food.
When we’re relaxed, our parasympathetic nervous system is turned on, and the sympathetic nervous system is switched off. The parasympathetic nervous system results in a relaxed and calm state, while the sympathetic nervous system excites the body and makes it stressed. It also increases blood pressure, increases the heart rate, causes the mouth to get dry, suppresses digestion, and suppresses the immune system.
We can control which system is turned on through meditation and belly breathing exercise techniques. Practicing belly breathing exercise techniques tricks the mind into sudden relaxation, switching the parasympathetic state on. And resulting in optimal gut health & breathing calmness for a healthier digestive system. Overall, belly breathing benefits can be huge for patients suffering from digestive issues.
Step-by-Step Guide on Gut Health & Breathing Techniques
To get the most out of your gut health & breathing techniques, here is a step-by-step guide on a belly breathing exercise.
- Find yourself a comfortable and quiet place you enjoy
- Either lie in a flat or reclined position
- Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your abdomen
- Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose. Make sure you are breathing only as deeply as is comfortable for you
- Exhale through your mouth and blow out gently
- Your abdomen should rise as you breathe in
- Repeat 10 times
Here are several gut health & breathing techniques you can practice. To calm your belly and restore your digestive system, practice the below belly breathing exercise.
Deepening your exhale is the quickest way to switch the body into relaxation mode. Inhale for four counts, hold the inhale for two counts, and exhale for six counts. If this is too difficult, simply inhale for two counts and exhale for four. Do this for as long as you’d like, but at least five minutes.
This technique is a basic breathing meditation. Pick one of three points to put all of your focus on—the breath coming in and out of your nostrils, your chest rising and falling, or your belly expanding and softening. Focus on this one point for anywhere from 5-20 minutes. You can say “inhale, exhale” inside your head if it helps you focus.
Counting your breaths is great for beginners or anyone who has trouble focusing. Practice the zen breath technique by drawing all of your attention to one point. As you inhale count “one” and as you exhale count “two”. Work your way up until you get distracted, and then start back over at one. Try this for 7-8 minutes and work your way up to 10-20 minutes.
Lie down for this exercise for digestion. Extend your arms at your side, palms facing upward. Let your breath be easy and effortless and try to relax your entire body. Begin at your toes and work your way up to the top of your head, scanning the body for any pain or tension. Wherever you feel pain or tension, take a deep inhale and exhale out the mouth. Repeat several times before moving to the next area.
The chakras are energy centers in the body. When they’re imbalanced you will feel blockages as you sit upright and breathe full, deep breaths.
For this technique, sit upright, shoulders directly over hips. Take a deep inhale through the nose, all the way to the root of the spine, and exhale out the nose, out the crown of the head. Repeat, but this time exhale out the mouth to relieve any tension.
On your next inhale through the nose, send the breath to the point just above the navel. Exhale through the nose, out the crown of the head. Inhale again and exhale out the mouth to relieve any tension. This chakra is the solar plexus, which is linked to digestion. Take a deep inhale and send the breath to your heart and exhale out the crown of the head. Inhale again and exhale out the mouth to relieve any tension.
On your next inhale, send the breath to your throat. Exhale out the crown of the head. Inhale again and exhale out the mouth to release any blockages. Inhale to your third eye—the point between your eyebrows. Exhale out the crown of the head. Inhale again, and exhale out the mouth to relieve any tension. Finally, inhale to the crown of the head and exhale out the crown of the head. Inhale, and then exhale out the mouth, releasing any remaining tension.
Practice these gut health & breathing techniques to help you relieve stress and calm your belly.
Restorative Exercise for Digestion
In addition to gut health & breathing techniques, some digestion exercises can have many belly breathing benefits. Some of these exercises for digestion include:
- Daily Activities – Sweeping and Hoovering
- Light Stretching
- Gentle Yoga – try a belly breathing exercise during yoga
- Light Biking
- Light Weight Lifting
But how does exercise for digestion help the digestive system and nervous system? Overall, stress, in the form of exercise, induces an inflammatory response. This inflammation is beneficial when it is combined with a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet. Good inflammation produces reactive oxygen species that help to fight off pathogens and microorganisms that can cause some diseases. Although, when there is chronic stress, inflammation and free radicals will damage far more than they should.
Overall, exercise is stress that is being put onto the body. This stress occurs in the form of tearing tissues, putting weight on muscles and bones. But it can be extremely beneficial:
- Increases Insulin Sensitivity
- Improving Bowel Movements
- Improves Gut Flora Diversity
- Influences Hunger Hormones
Overall, as you can see, there are huge belly breathing benefits to our belly breathing exercise. Over time, there is evidence to suggest that regular exercise for digestion can have many benefits for the digestive system. In addition to gut health & breathing exercises.
In addition to practicing a breathing meditation, it is important to continue to take BIOHM probiotic and prebiotic supplements for total gut balance, as well as fuel your body with gut-friendly food.
- Kate Wilke