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Article

The Benefits of Diaphragmatic Breathing

Saturday, March 12th 2022 10:00am 7 min read
Dr. Jessica Renfer drjessica.nd

Licensed naturopathic doctor with expertise in lifestyle transformation, healing from chronic disease and natural fertility & preconception.

We have the ability to directly affect our physiology, and specifically our nervous system. Ancient traditions of healing and spirituality have described this ability for millenia. And now, through our modern research interests and capability, we are beginning to discover the mechanisms by which these practices benefit us on all levels: cellular, psychological, etc.

For those seeking to understand the Mind Heart Body Connection, and harness it for healing and empowerment, it is quite an exciting time. That which has intuitively felt beneficial, and clinically proven to be essential, is now being described both in the language of science and spirit.

Today we will focus on the Breath, and specifically the technique referred to as Diaphragmatic Breathing, or Deep Belly Breathing. We will start with a simple discussion of the concept of Vagal Tone. This will help to set the stage as we explore how this simple practice has profound and lasting benefits to our health, physically, emotionally and mentally.

What is vagal tone?

Vagal tone is a way of referencing the balance of our nervous system. The concept of “Enhancing Vagal Tone” means encouraging activation of the Ventral Vagal branch of the Parasympathetic Nervous System. This branch governs our ability to heal, relax, digest and be at peace. So often, whether due to mental, emotional or physical stress, we end up stuck in a sympathetic dominant state. Sympathetic dominance is accompanied physiologically with elevated levels of cortisol, elevated heart rate, reduced heart rate variability, and overall higher levels of tension within the system. All of which are associated with increased incidence of chronic disease.

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