Mindfulness Technique: Diaphragmatic Breathing for Posture & Back Pain

Mindfulness. Mind/Body. Intentionality. Mindful Eating. Body Scanning. Meditation. We hear these terms everywhere these days. Sources continue to extoll their benefits. So, we are probably all in agreement that mindfulness is a good thing. But how can you work it into your already jam-packed schedule? And which discipline is right for you? Pondering these choices can actually be so overwhelming that one becomes even MORE stressed, and less mindful!

Diaphragmatic breathing is a simple mindfulness activity that not only combines breath and posture awareness but can also help reduce back pain. Plus, you can do it while walking.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragm tightness can lead to low back tightness and pain.  Try this diaphragmatic breathing technique to help ease back pain and improve posture.

  1. While walking at a comfortable pace, bring your awareness to your breath. Breathe in through your nose as if smelling something delicious. As you inhale, feel your ribcage expand 3-dimensionally; especially to the sides and back. Visualize breathing air into the lower lobes of your lungs. Breathe out through your mouth, through pursed lips; as if you’re blowing out a candle. As you exhale, notice your ribs knitting together as your abdominal muscles engage.
  2. Find a comfortable rhythm with your breath and your stride. For example, breathe in for 4 steps, breathe out for 6 steps.
  3. Next bring awareness to your upper torso. Lift your sternum.
  4. Bring awareness to your navel.  It may sound funny, but imagine you have a grape in it and you are squeezing the grape so it doesn’t fall out.

This may take some concentration to maintain all 4 things at the same time. Begin with #1 and work on that until it becomes natural and then progress to the other items. You will like the results!

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Sally Bartlett, ©2021


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