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Ease anxiety and stress: Take a (belly) breather

May 10, 2022

About the Author

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Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch

Matthew Solan is the executive editor of Harvard Men’s Health Watch. He previously served as executive editor for UCLA Health’s Healthy Years and as a contributor to Duke Medicine’s Health News and Weill Cornell Medical College’s … See Full Bio
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May 16, 2019

It is an absolutely an amazing way to feel vibrant and vitality..It not only divert our concentration but also stimulate energy centres which are located below.and above.umblicus..

May 13, 2019

This is probably the cheapest health hack one can do. Breathing is talked about in physical training and meditation. Asthmatics do better if they learn to breath properly. Blood ph or the acid base regulation and waste removal involves breathing.

May 13, 2019

“Of course, we don’t need our fight-or-flight response to escape predators anymore.” Really?

Not so fast. In the northern Rockies and some of the Northern Cascade mountains of the US and all the mountains in Alberta, BC and the North of Canada, humans are not the top predators. We follow Grizzly Bears and lions/cougers making us #3 toward the top of the food chain! These lovely creatures make hiking, mountain biking and horse riding a new experience in superiority.

And don’t forget sharks encountered when surfing, paddle boarding, diving etc. etc. out here in the Middle of the Pacific Sea. . . . Come for a visit and enjoy!

Peter Ewert
May 13, 2019

Very informative and helpful as always.Your articles are very helpful and I take them seriously and try to incorperate into my life! THANKYOU!

Richard M. Klein , MD
May 13, 2019

I disagree about the importance of belly breathing. Slow, deep breathing with careful attention to and awareness of the breathing process is extremely relaxing and stress relieving, whether it be belly breathing or chest breathing . The type of chest breathing which is associated with anxiety is rapid chest breathing, not slow chest breathing. Slow, deep breathing into the chest is a great source of anxiety relief, and this can stimulate the vagus nerve just as belly breathing can.

Elizabeth H.
May 27, 2019

I do a lot of work with the gut-brain connection and breathing. I find opening up breathing from the belly up to the chest the best way for people to connect everything. The exhale is usually easier for people to move through the centers then the inhale.

After many years teaching breathing my belief is the best result is from opening both centers and getting the rhythm going.

Michaelle Edwards
May 13, 2019

Of course we should not breathe with the upper respiratory muscles or just the upper ribs since that can illicit a sympathetic nervous system response. However we also are not designed to breathe with the belly by pushing the abdomen forward when inhaling. The lungs are encased in the rib cage. The primary of respiration, the diaphragm is attached to the inner ribs and spine and does not descend any lower than the bottom of the rib cage on inhalation. The liver and stomach are in the belly or abdominal region below the rib cage. By pushing the abdomen forward, one is in fact creating a shortening of the abdomen and further restricting rib cage movement. The lower ribs in the costal arch region should expand sideways on inhalation rather than pushing the belly forward. I have helped thousands of people retrain the breathing apparatus including those who have been instructed to breathe with the belly pushing the abdomen forward. The result of this type of belly breathing is organs pushed forward of the torso. I think that in the effort to stop people from slouching and just using the upper neck muscles, people have been told to take the breathing process lower in the body but by initiating with the abdomen in preference to the ribs, there are other issues that arise. See

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