Week #1: Diaphragm Releases & Breathing

Click here to download and view the Voyage to HEAL Diaphragmatic breathing

  • A gift to the world leads one person to have less and another to have more. A gift from God is an energetic experience in which both giver and receiver gain. Alan Cohen (AC)
  • We teach people how to treat us. Nancy M.
The Power of the Breathe

The Power of Diaphragmatic Breathing

Holding your breath is like not moving for fear of what is to come next. Learn how to use your breath to become calm and soften an area of your body or mind. When done properly, diaphragmatic breathing allows the sympathetic nervous system to shut down so the fight, flight, or freeze response subsides.

This alone will:

  • improve concentration
  • improve memory
  • change episodes of reaction to response because the higher brain is active
  • allow for a more restful sleep over longer periods of time
  • activate the lymphatic system which will boost the immune response
  • lower blood pressure and cortisol levels

What’s the difference between a long inhale vs a long exhale?

  • A long inhale is used to increase your energy. Think of it as giving your body energy to use. Taking in the air that will propel you forward. To increase your energy focus on the inhale by inhaling for 4-8 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and exhale for 4 seconds.
  • A long exhale is used to calm your body. You are exhaling the tension in your body. You are releasing that built up energy. To calm yourself, inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and exhale for at least 6-10 seconds or longer if possible.

Why should the breath come in through the nose and out through the mouth?

  • The nose is more direct route to the lungs and engages the upper intercostal muscles more than inhaling through the mouth.
  • Exhaling through the mouth with the lips puckered engages the diaphragm muscle to expel the air.
  • Doing a gentle breath in and out through the nose is most recommended while at rest. This calm, even flow of breath will also ease the body. Check out, The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown for more information on this.

Sucking in to get a flat stomach

We can spend a lot of time sucking in because we want a flat stomach. When we do this, the pelvic floor tightens. When the pelvic floor stays in a tightened state, the tailbone, sacrum, and lower back all tighten up and cause pain and prohibit digestion. This will also tilt the pelvis forward which will extend the back which will send the head forward. Bad alignment. So, the moral of the story, let it out! A great stretch for the pelvic floor is to puff your belly out and break the habit of sucking in all the time.

The breath related to giving and receiving

  • For a moment take in as much air as possible, now take in even more air, and even more. Feel how your body feels as if it will burst. Sometimes, this is how it can feel for someone to receive more than they give.
  • Now, exhale as much air as possible. Now exhale even more and even more. Note how depleted your body feels. This is what giving too much feels like physically.

There must be a balance between the inhale and the exhale in order for the body to function. Evaluate how this could relate to your life. Are you giving too much and it’s taking your breath away? There will be times in our lives when we need to receive more than we give in order for our body to overcome challenges. Accepting this help is a gift and should be received graciously. You are worth it. 

How to Breath Using your Diaphragm

How to Breath Using your Diaphragm

Please, view the chapter handout for a picture demonstration of breathing using your diaphragm.

There is a great video call the “3D view of Diaphragm” by 3d-yoga.com. Click here to view it

Also watch this short tutorial on how to breath using your diaphragm. Click here to view how to breathe

Step 1:

Belly breathing is easiest when you are laying down on your back, then in a sitting position leaning forward and finally in a standing position. If you are unable to expand your stomach to breath, complete the diaphragm, chest, or abdominal releases while breathing. Never force the air in. Let it calmly flow in and out stopping anytime you feel your shoulders rise up.

Step 2:

When breathing with your belly, imagine you have a balloon in your belly that each time you inhale you are inflating. This means your stomach and back expand on the inhale and you should feel your stomach puff out. Your shoulders should not move. Let the breath enter through your nose if possible. When you feel your body starting to strain, exhale. Once again, never force air in or out. No one ever reduced tension by inducing it. ( :

Step 3:

On the exhale, pull your stomach in as if the balloon was deflating. Your neck and shoulders should be soft during both inhalation and exhalation. Let the breath leave through your mouth. Eventually the breath in and out will be through the nose, but at the beginning it is helpful to exhale through the mouth to engage the muscles between the ribcage and the diaphragm. 

Step 4:

Complete diaphragmatic breathing first laying down where gravity is eliminated. Place your hands on your stomach and feel it rise on the inhale and fall on the exhale. If you are not able to lay on your back, sit in a chair and bend forward with your elbows on your knees and feel the expansion in your core as you breathe in and the softness as you exhale. Do this 5-10 times.

Now it’s time to complete the diaphragmatic breathing meditation from the Inner Guide to Stretching DVD. There will be another meditation to complete while releasing the diaphragm and for the enlightened perspective meditation. The video below describes diaphragmatic breathing and takes you through a breathing specific meditation. 


The following video takes you through the diaphragmatic breathing meditation so you can practice breathing. The meditation that coincides with this chapter will follow. Please listen to both meditations as the messages are different. Choose which one matches your needs best.

Diaphragm Releases

Diaphragm Releases

Once again, please view the full chapter download for images of releasing the diaphragm.

As with all releases, hold the position until you feel a shift of any kind in your body. Fascia takes about 2-5 minutes to start to change. Talk to your body. Ask yourself, what would it feel like to breath? What would it look like to breath? Envision the bind on your diaphragm opening and expanding. Release the energy holding this area tight. Breathing alone is a stretch so you may not need to do this release. This can be a very restricted area and not very comfortable to release. Never force. Go in slowly and gently. This is a sensitive area so respect pain and never force a release. Try this laying down as well. If the body is saying it is too much, it is too much. Lighten the pressure or just breathe as a means to stretching the diaphragm. If you have a history of or presently have an aortic aneurysm or hiatal hernia, DO NOT DO THIS RELEASE!

Click on the link below for the video on even more options to release the diaphragm:

Direct Pressure Diaphragm Releases

Option #1: 

Try grasping your fingers under your diaphragm. Roll the shoulders inward to allow for this if needed.

Option #2:

Using a releaser ball into the diaphragm is also an effective way to open up this area. Lay on your stomach with the ball at the base of the ribcage or standing with the ball on a chair, bed or counter and lean into the space below the ribcage moving in an upward direction toward the head.

Option #3:

A cut up pool noodle is another alternative to applying a pin point pressure release into the diaphragm.

Option #4:

Puff your belly out as far as you can. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 3x. Do this periodically throughout the day to stretch from the inside out.

Meditation: Giving and Receiving

Meditation: Giving and Receiving

Please complete this laying down because you may feel light headed or dizzy with the increased oxygen into your body. As your body gets used to consuming more oxygen, this will lessen.

Download Meditation File

To save the downloaded file with the title name I suggest you right click on the link and save as the name of the meditation. Repeat this process with each meditation.

Begin laying or sitting in a supported position with your hands on your stomach. Take a gentle breath in feeling your stomach rise on the inhale and fall on the exhale. Envision a balloon inflating in your abdominal region on the inhale and deflating on the exhale. Our body needs as much air in as it does out in order to survive. For a moment take a deep breath in to the count of 12, exhale. Feel how grateful your body was that you let go of that air. Now, breathe in once again for 5 seconds and exhale for 20 seconds. Once again, feel how grateful your body was to receive air. Now, breath in for 5 counts, exhale for 5 counts, breath in for 5 counts, exhale for 5 counts, breath in for 5 counts, exhale for 5 counts. How did your body feel with an equal inhale and exhale.

There are times in our life when we take in more than we give and times when we give more than we take, but at no time should either end be to the extreme that we can’t breathe. In any relationship, giving and receiving, like the breath in and out, should have balance. In giving, you should be receiving as much as the recipient. Now is your time to receive more than you have given filling you with energy and vibrancy.

Continue to breathe allowing the air to enter through your nose and out through pursed lips. Take a gentle breathe in to the count of 7, hold 7 seconds, slowly release to the count of 10. Breath in to the count of 7, hold to the count of 7, slowly release to the count of 10, breathe in to the count of 7, hold 7 seconds, slowly release to the count of 10. Return to your natural breath at this time feeling a sense of peace beginning to enter your body.

Now bring your awareness to the base of your ribcage. The home of the solar plexus. Our confidence, courage, creativity center. The area that says I am good enough to receive. Picture a brilliant yellow light shining into this area as you repeat I am good enough to receive. Repeat this as many times as you need. Remember you can always return to this colored breath and mantra during any of the stretches that follow and at any time.

Remind yourself: I am good enough to receive.


Music: Morning Bliss by Moments

Journal Option

Life is very much like the breath in and out. We must receive in order to give and give in order to receive. Hence, there must be boundaries so you are not giving too much air or taking in more than you can receive. Throughout this Voyage, it is so important that you remember that you are good enough to receive.

Journal Option: Do I need to give or receive more at this time of my life? Do I have a healthy overall balance of giving and receiving?

Postural Correction

Postural Correction: Breath and keeping your shoulders soft

Observation #1:

Take note when you breathe and when you hold your breath. Have someone else point it out if needed.

Observation #2:

Break this cycle and stop breathing with your shoulders rising up. Stop the breath in when you feel your shoulders rise

Observation #3:

Try breathing in and out through your nose rather than you mouth when possible.

Diaphragm Exercises

Breathing alone is an exercise. So just focus on your breathing throughout the day. Before you get out of bed in the morning and go to bed at night, take 5 deep breathes in and out. When you feel yourself rushing around, take a moment to stop and breath. Use your breath to become present.

Recommended Reading

  1. A Course in Miracles Made Easy by Alan Cohen
  2. I also love the song “Breathe” by Jonny Diaz
Insight into Giving and Receiving

Insight into Giving and Receiving

I was the volunteer queen. I was on multiple committees and felt like I was really making a strong impact in my community and field of practice. My schedule was booked. I was doing all the things that I loved to do. I had a good job, recently got married, bought my first horse, and had a great social group. I was waking up at 5:30 am to go to work, get off and ride my horse, go biking with my husband, walk the dogs, eat dinner and repeat. Every so often throw in the weekly board meeting or the musical I directed. My heart was happy, but my body was tired and it told me so through my thyroid. I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, Graves disease.

What a blessing that I had just recently learned to listen to my body through John F. Barnes myofascial release. After the exhausting search of finding an endocrinologist that would prescribe medication, monitor me, and respect the use of complementary medicine, I started a 2 year journey of slowing down and listening to my body. This meant learning to say “No” if my boundaries were over stretched. I remember as I began to quiet down and meditate my husband thought I was mad at him because I was not talking or doing something. Obviously, I was a bit of a hyper individual beforehand with quite an overactive nervous system that was always in fight, flight, or freeze mode. I do remember being a bit moody. Hahaha It took a bit over 2 years, but as I listened to my body, I healed my thyroid by shifting the way I lived my life and respected my needs.

The cycle repeated itself when I started my own business and once again found myself burning the candle at both ends. Then, I added in two children, whom didn’t believe I should have the 10 hours a sleep a night that I used to have, and we moved. My life changed drastically and I wasn’t taking this change as well as I thought I would. Once again, I realized that I had to prioritize and set my boundaries. Once again, I was in a place where I needed to receive a lot and give a little. I also needed to let go of some of the things that did not fit into my life as they had before. Finding balance can be so tricky. Once you become aware of your priorities and let go of the stressors, or change your focus, balance can be established as you will find along your Voyage to HEAL.