To ﬁnd out if you are breathing with your diaphragm:
✦ Hold one hand across your breastbone and the other hand on your tummy. At rest there should be no upper chest movement and only very small movement of the tummy. The tummy will expand as you breathe in and contract as you breathe out. For this exercise, do not wear a very tight ﬁtting belt, or clothes that will restrict abdom- inal breathing. It may help if you open the top button of your trousers if it is unduly restrictive.
✦ Sit up straight and adopt a correct posture.
✦ Imagine that the back of your head is lightly suspended by a thread from the ceiling.
✦ Lengthen the distance from your sternum (chest bone) to your navel.
✦ Have both feet ﬂat on the ﬂoor.
✦ Relax your shoulders and upper chest; this is very important.
✦ With your lips lightly together, breathe in gently through your nose.
✦ Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your tummy.
✦ Concentrate on having very little movement of the upper chest.
✦ Gradually reduce the amount of movement in your chest; having your hand on your chest will register this.
✦ With your other hand, direct your attention to feeling your tummy move out with each inhalation and in on each exhalation.
✦ Repeat to yourself: breathe out – tummy in; breathe in – tummy out.
OUT – IN IN – OUT
✦ Imagine a loose elastic band around your waist stretching slightly (but only slightly) as you inhale, and contracting as you exhale.
✦ Focus on your stomach expanding with each inhalation and contracting with each exhalation. These movements are noticeable but slight.
Practice this for ten minutes each day, in addition to your exercises, until you have reduced upper chest breathing considerably. It is important not to practice for more than ten minutes at a time because breathing muscles can become very tired.
Breathe In – Tummy Out
Breathe Out – Tummy In