How often do you give any thought to your breathing? How is your breathing? Do you know? Are you aware of it?
Thankfully, we don’t have to be consciously aware of our breath on a moment-by-moment basis, because we can only survive for six minutes without breathing.
Our breathing is an integral part of how we feel. Although we may not be aware of our breath moment by moment, it influences how we feel during the day. When we are nervous, scared, or anxious, the length of our breath usually gets shorter. When we are feeling relaxed, calm, and at ease, our breath is usually longer. We can also purposefully change the length of our breath to shift how we feel.
What gets in the way of breathing fully?
What gets in the way of taking a full breath? Why don’t we often breathe fully even though we would feel better if we did?
Two things often get in the way of taking a full breath. One is habit. As children, we breathe fully. We are born naturally breathing fully. However, over time we frequently get out of the habit of taking a full breath for all kinds of reasons and, instead, we acquire a habit of shallow breathing. The second thing that often gets in the way of taking a full breath is shortness or tension in the muscles that we use to breathe. With long periods of sitting in chairs, sitting in front of the computer, and sitting in the car, muscles involved in breathing often get compressed on the front of the body. They get shorter. We then have less space for breath.
How can massage help with my breathing?
Structural integration massage is a very useful tool for working directly with the tissue involved in breathing and creating more space. In fact, the first session of the ten structural integration sessions is called the breathing session. It focuses specifically on addressing shortness or imbalance in the body that can restrict breathing.
Want to breathe with more ease? Schedule time for a massage!
Want to make a change in your breathing right now?
Next time you are feeling a bit apprehensive before an important meeting or presentation, try this:
- Sit up tall, with your shoulders relaxed in your back.
- Now, take a full inhale that lasts for a count of three.
- Now exhale for a count of three
- Repeat, for five breaths, paying special attention to choosing to take a full, relaxed inhale and stretching it out for a count of three.
This kind of breathing can help settle the nervous system when we are in everyday situations where we feel anxious, irritated, or just “off” in some way.
Breathing is crucial to life, but we often give it little attention. Learn more about how to initiate healing breathing patterns in the next post. Give your own breathing some support by scheduling a massage. Feel better today!