Pouring a glass of red wine


The importance of the diaphragmatic breathing and of the vagal tone for everyday welfare and for emotional regulation. 

When children, very often we were hidden behind the door or under the bed trying to breath very little for being silent. 

If we are scared of being discovered, or if we are in an anger situation, we modulate our breathe in relation to the specific moment. In a healthy individual, deep breathing (optimal) should reactivate itself naturally when the tension situation is concluded. 

Although since children we know we do it naturally, sometimes we lose the capacity of breathing optimally or deeply. Due to the recurrence of unpleasant situation or the way we handle with stress. 

Every discipline based on the body: yoga, mindfulness, bio-dance, and the psychotherapeutic approaches, such as functional psychology have as a basis the diaphragmatic breathing. 

In mindfulness, breathing is necessary to re-link with oneself, with our own “going back home”. Reconnect the body with the mind, every time our mind is lost, as expressed by a famous Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. 

Even in sport activities, breathing is essential for final achievement. For a restful sleep, for emotional regulation.

Thoracic breathing is linked to those mechanisms that makes us ready to an imminent action (intestinal peristalsis slows, blood is pumped faster, sweating increases to dispose of heat). While diaphragmatic breathing produces vagtonia, that is major relax (stomach and intestine are moving, blood flows slower, endorphins are circulating).

The part of the brain that controls this function is the hypothalamus, that works on the autonomic or vegetative nervous system, that is responsible for involuntary and automatic responses of the organism. 

Autonomic system includes: the enteric (intestinal), sympathetic (activating) and parasympathetic system (linked to relaxation activities).

Sympathetic system is activated in a situation of fight or flight, that determine those psycho-physical and hormonal factors typical of anger moments or strong emotions; parasympathetic system, instead, produces rest and digest. 

When we talk about deep breathing, we refer not only to the diaphragm, but also to the activity of vagus nerve. 

It is a cranial nerve that from the medulla arrives (vague) until the abdomen, unnerving the diaphragm and main internal organs. 

It is essential for the organism, because it determines homeostasis and relaxing, including the majority of fibres that constitute parasympathetic system.

A good vagal tone, besides, improve inflammation, promotes the storage of memories, regulate heartbeat. 

How does a good breathing work?

Diaphragm is a muscle presenting a form of a flattened dome, deriving from the Latin frango which means separated, while dia is an Ancient Greek preposition that indicates through, via.

Situated between the thoracic cave and the abdominal cave, it is the passage point of the aorta and esophagus.

Diaphragm is able to improve the supply of oxygen to lungs. 

The breathing process is developed in two steps: inspiration (that has to always happen from the nose), when the diaphragm goes down and the volume of intercostal muscles increase, and the thoracic cave is dilated. Going down, it gives space to lungs for extending and swell of air. Expiration usually happens in a passive way, through the relaxing of muscles. 

Conscious breathing is a primary mean of reaching welfare. 

Practising physical activity, meditation, or massages of specific physical areas, helps to improve vagal tone. 

Besides, the use of bio-feedback (that is electrodes linked to a computer, controlling some functions such as blood pressure, muscular tension, heart rate) is a very good treatment, that lets the person understand which attitudes create such parameters, and as a result how to auto regulate it with time. 

Being able to breath becomes imperative in a dynamic and hypercomplex society. 

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