What is an abdominal breath, you may ask? A breath that is so deep, your belly expands as your lungs fill and your diaphragm contracts. It is also known as a “Diaphragmatic Breath”. Right about now, you’re probably thinking, “I’ve never done that! It makes no sense! The belly moves in when I breathe in!” Take a look at someone who is sleeping. Or maybe, tonight, pay attention to that moment right before you fall asleep, when you are so relaxed, that each breath fills the lungs and belly completely. See! You do know how to breath like a yogi. =)
So why do you want to breath like this? By taking a deep breath, you increase your oxygen uptake, calm your sympathetic nervous system (don’t you take a deep breath before/during something stressful to calm your nerves?), maintain lung function (use it or lose it applies here as well), lower stress hormones, and lower blood pressure (from an elevated state). When we are able to take a breath, it also gives us a moment to think something through. So maybe the next time you are in a disagreement with a loved one, try taking a deep breath instead of lashing out and saying something mean.
Just as you have done without being conscious of it, see if you can now be aware of the breath, as you use it to help you overcome something difficult. This can be used mentally and physically: the deep breath before a test vs. the deep breath to help you stay in Ardha Chandrasana one more breath. So next time you are met with a challenge, meet it with your breath.
Most people won’t pay any mind to their breath today. A majority of them will not even take a full inhalation. Try something new. Be different. BREATHE!