You’ve been breathing your entire life and some of us can improve our techniques despite years of practice. Go ahead and think about your breathing right now. Are you breathing using your thoracic diaphragm?
If you’ve attend a yoga class then you might be familiar with the technique of breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth using your belly. It turns out that breathing that way is really good for you. It relaxes your mind, lowers your blood pressure, and it’s all thanks to the stimulus of the vagus nerve. Check your breath before you wreck yourself.
When it comes to effective vagal maneuvers, any type of deep, slow diaphragmatic breathing—during which you visualize filling up the lower part of your lungs just above your belly button like a balloon…and then exhaling slowly—is going to stimulate your vagus nerve, activate your parasympathetic nervous system, and improve your HRV.
Some people make time every day to practice diaphragmatic breathing as part of a yoga or mindfulness-meditation routine. Others only take a really deep breath anytime they catch themselves feeling “panicky,” need to have grace under pressure, or want to relieve some frustration. All of these applications of diaphragmatic breathing can reap huge benefits.