I have been breathing from my diaphragm most of my life – I am a trumpet player. For anyone who doesn’t know how, I’ll give you my take on it. Somehow, when I’m in the middle of an exacerbation and my lungs are at their TIGHTest, I am still able to play my horn. I myself don’t understand it! I can barely breathe, but I can still blow the horn.
This sounds strange, but when I breathe from my diaphragm, it feels almost as if I’m bypassing my lungs. I don’t think about filling my lungs, but pushing my stomach out, which is pulling the diaphragm down, allowing more air into the lungs (I’m no doc…….not really sure about what’s happening inside……just throw your gut out and think of filling that area with air). Think about filling your lower chest cavity. If you raise or throw your chest out you’re not using your diaphragm. You may think you took in a lot of air but you are still shallow breathing. The goal of diaphragmatic breathing is to fill the entire chest cavity from the bottom. Pretend your body from the waist up is a tree trunk and you want to fill every cubic inch of your trunk with air, starting from the bottom (don't think about filling the upper chest, it is happening anyway).
If I could draw an exaggerated cartoon of how I feel after inhaling……….there would be this guy (fairly good looking for his age) with shoulders down, chest almost concave, and he has a baby bump (let’s say 7 months pregnant) in the stomach area (this is an exaggerated cartoon, and a pretty sad sight). That’s me at full inhale.
Once you’ve filled her up……..use your core to push the air out. The same core muscles you’ve been developing from exercising every day. At the fitness center today I dropped to 80% saturation. I slowed my pace, did the diaphragm/pursed lip thing and pushed myself back into the low 90’s and continued.
My explanation may not be medically correct, but this is how it feels to me. And if I can blow a trumpet in mid-exacerbation, it works……. at least for me.