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How To Perform Diaphragmatic Breathing With Pursed Lips


Updated July 02, 2014

Two major muscle groups are used in the normal breathing process: the diaphragm and the rib muscles. When the diaphragm becomes weak, people with lung diseases develop a breathing pattern that uses accessory muscles (neck, shoulders, rib muscles) to breathe.

Diaphragmatic breathing is a technique that helps correct this habit by helping strengthen the diaphragm and the abdominal muscles. This will allow more air to move in and out of the lungs without tiring the chest muscles.

When used with pursed-lip breathing and practiced regularly, you can increase your exercise tolerance and feel better.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: 5-10 Minutes; 3-4 times daily

Here's How:

  1. Lie down with your knees bent. You can also do the exercise while sitting or standing upright with your head and back supported.
  2. Place your hand on your abdomen, just above your waist.
  3. Try and relax before getting started.
  4. Inhale deeply through your nose while gently pushing out your abdomen. You should be able to feel the hand on your abdomen moving outward. With your abdomen extended outward, your diaphragm can now drop down making more room for air in your lungs.
  5. Exhale slowly using pursed lips while gently pushing inward and upward with your hand to help empty your lungs completely.
  6. Repeat. Practice the technique in a sitting and standing position till you are comfortable doing it anywhere.


  1. Try replacing your hand with a small book for visual reinforcement during the breathing exercises.
  2. Remember to inhale and exhale slowly.
  3. Remember to let your diaphragm do the work. Keep your neck, shoulders and rib muscles still.
  4. If necessary, place your other hand on the upper part of your chest to make sure that it is moving as little as possible.
  5. Remember this pattern: Belly goes out as your breathe in -- Belly goes in as you breathe out.

What You Need

  • A quiet place to practice
  • Determination to succeed
  • Patience
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