An 11-Minute Breathing Exercise For Stronger Abs & A Clearer Mind

After having my first baby, I noticed that my abdomen still looked like I was pregnant or like I had eaten a bit too many muffins.

Fast-forward six years and a second baby: I now felt like I was left with a permanent little tire at the base of my abdominals. Although I was dedicated to working out and getting back to being fit and tone, the bulge was starting to bring me down.

It wasn’t until I consistently introduced and incorporated rapid diaphragmatic breathing into my daily routine that I started to see real changes: toner abs, a diminished muffin top and even my upper abs were looking svelte. I was also having less back pain, no more tingling down my leg in forward fold, no more internal twinges and aches when picking up my 4 year old. I was even having increased energy, less anxiety, more control over my temper-tantrums and more mindfulness throughout my day.

All thanks to a muscle known as transverse abdominal (TVA), which plays a major role in stabilizing your core, your back and your pelvis. TVA is the muscle that compresses the ribs and allows forced expiration, so its only fitting that a breathing exercise where the focus is exhalation would totally rock this muscle, my abs and mentally AND my peace of mind!

Go slow when starting to incorporate this breathing exercise. You may feel some abdominal soreness. Make sure you aren't straining. Start off with 1-2 minutes as a goal and building up to 11 minutes, but no more than 11 minutes. Do not use this breathing if you are pregnant or menstruating. Do not ask your children to try this exercise. Also use caution if you have high blood pressure or lung disease.

Here are seven simple steps to get started on your very first Breath Of Fire!

Breath Of Fire:

1. Sit crossed-legged on the floor, or sit in a chair with your feet hip width apart and placed flat on the floor. Rest your hands on your thighs.

2. Begin by opening your mouth and sticking your tongue out and pant, like a puppy over your tongue.

3. As you get comfortable, increase the pace, focusing on even inhalations and exhalations.

4. Notice your belly pumping, as the breath is coming from the diaphragm. This is the TVA working with the diaphragm.

5. Now when you feel comfortable, close your mouth and transfer breath through your nose, still pumping the belly. You can place one hand on your belly if you like, to bring attention to the part of the body that your breath is working.

6. Keep a fast pace without losing the even breaths. This feels like you are sniffing rapidly.

7. You can skip step two as you get comfortable with breathing through your nose.

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