Breathing is a vital and relatively simple function in our bodies. Yet most of us impede this beautiful feature, which originates in our core. We hold our breath.
Here is an anatomy factoid that relates to breathing: our scalenes are small muscles that attach to the first two ribs and the cervical vertebrae. As a massage therapist who specializes in neck and upper body issues, I often work these little muscle fibers that contract and release with every breath we take. They can get a little rigid when we hold our breath. Massage can help soften them or relieve a spasm. If we are shallow breathers the scalene muscles (and others!) work extra hard. Holding-our-breath or shallow breathing go hand-in-hand with stress and anxiety. Stiff neck and compromised posture can develop easily from these patterns.
My self-care tip is to do some deep breathing during everyday moments. My professional invitation is to ask you to breathe deeply during bodywork sessions. It is one of the keys to receiving more deeply. Be curious about inhale and exhale; notice what can happen!
Notice and enjoy when you are doing deep breathing. The following signs will help you feel confident that it IS happening.
Our bellies move as the diaphragm gets into the action.
The breath is heard passing through our nose and mouth.
Add a new habit to benefit from breath. The following are a few ideas from my experiences:
-Make the exhale (out-breathe) twice as long as the inhale (in-breath). I enjoy this focus during some simple yoga stretches.
-Sing during stressful tasks. I sing get-ready instructions to my 5 year old in the morning while we hurry to catch the bus.
-Use the sound "om" to breathe and give your mind a focus and feel vibration energy. I do it in the car at stop lights and during my commute to and from Cotuit.
Deep breathing allows a release in the muscles, in the mind, and in the heart. As a Massage Therapist, I witness the subtle and obvious impact of breathing. I create a hold or pause during a massage session. I wait because I am listening to the shifts in the body. There is a sense of ease around my hands that follows a deep breath. I also witness obvious deep breathing with clients. You may relate to one of these examples. As it may remind you that bodywork has a special place in your life.
Some people snore... which a massage therapist often views as a compliment.
Some people have an emotional reaction with a few tears or a deep sob... we can breath very deeply during a good cry.
Some people yawn...and then I yawn too.
Some people take a deep breath when my techniques are challenging. This is a nonverbal way for me and a client to communicate about pressure limits.
Enjoy all that you take in. Enjoy your deep breaths.
Theresa Fallon graduated from the Santa Fe School of Massage in 2007. It was here that she learned the finer details of anatomy, kinesiology, and physiology. And, she fully embraced a healing arts education. She has woven her skills, gifts, and foundational biological science knowledge into a beautiful type of massage.
She uses Swedish massage in combination with anatomically specific strokes and often includes effective neuromuscular techniques that resolve muscle spasms or muscle tightness.