Do you have trouble with insomnia, anxiety, or lack of concentration? Try the 4-7-8 breathing technique. You inhale through your nose for 4 counts, hold for 7 counts, then exhale (audibly and forcefully) through your mouth for 8 counts. Do 4-8 rounds of this breath and see how you feel.
This technique draws on the relationship between breath and the nervous system. When our inhalation is longer than our exhalation, our nerves send a signal to the brain that we need oxygen in order to fight or flee. This turns up our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight), which increases heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormone levels. In the 4-7-8 technique, our short inhale and long exhale turns up our parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). This technique helps to calm our heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels and helps to induce sleep, relaxation, and focus.
Speaking personally, this technique helps me shut off the world around me and brings me into my body. I also use it with clients who struggle with anxiety and have trouble relaxing.
In honor of today's public hearing for LD 1036, "Resolve, to Study Repeal of Occupational Licensing Requirements for Certain Occupations", I wanted to share the letter I wrote to the Maine legislature. This bill, LD 1036, threatens to take away the licensing requirements for massage therapists in Maine, among other careers. If you are inspired to oppose this bill, please write to one of the representatives in the Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development. Their contact information can be found at this site: http://legislature.maine.gov/committee/#Committees/LCED
Below is my letter to the Legislature:
April 19, 2017
To Whom it May Concern:
I am writing to urge you to please oppose LD 1036, “To Study Repeal of Occupational Licensing Requirements for Certain Occupations.” As a licensed massage therapist and faculty member at the New Hampshire Institute for Therapeutic Arts in Bridgton Maine, I am insulted that Senator Eric Brakey approves of unlicensed massage therapists practicing in my state. My license and the rigorous education that earned that license, allows me to help clients manage pain in a proactive and healthy way. Many of my clients arrive in my office, disillusioned by the cocktail of painkillers prescribed by their doctors. They do not want to numb their bodies, rather they want to feel mobile, unrestricted, and healthy. With my strong knowledge of anatomy and background in numerous massage techniques, I know how to improve range of motion in joints, identify overworked and underworked muscles, and restore balance in the muscular system. The treatment extends beyond the table as I help clients develop body awareness and teach self-care techniques. My work with clients is built upon the knowledge and experience that I gained in school and in workshops. As an anatomy and physiology instructor at a massage school, I see the enormous amount of effort that each student dedicates in working towards graduation and licensing. I cannot imagine the lackluster quality of care that massage therapists would provide without the educational standards demanded by our state-issued license.
While I am aware that not all massage therapists share my focus on restoring anatomical balance and inspiring kinesthetic awareness in clients, I believe every therapist from spas to sports centers, needs to have basic knowledge of the body and uphold standards for proper hygiene and professionalism. They need to understand the sites of major arteries and nerves that must be not be compressed during massage. They need to understand the importance of cleaning sheets and massage accessories in order to prevent the spread of diseases. They need to understand how to foster a caring and empathetic relationship with clients without blurring the boundary between therapeutic and sexual.
If you want to change anything about the Maine licensing requirements for massage therapists, I suggest you swing in the opposite direction and require continuing education requirements every year or two years. I suggest you find ways to encourage Maine residents to embrace massage as a legitimate and helpful therapeutic modality that can reduce dependency on addictive painkillers. I suggest you increase the minimum number of educational hours required to obtain a massage license in Maine.
Thank you for your time. I appreciate you considering my thoughts and suggestions.
Emily Dunuwila, BA, LMT
Are you breathing efficiently? If you are a visual learner like me, it may help to have some imagery to aid in efficient breathing. First we have to picture the diaphragm--the primary muscle of respiration. It's like a parachute that connects to the lungs on top and the abdominal contents on the bottom. As the diaphragm contracts, it moves downwards, allowing more space for air. As the diaphragm relaxes, it moves upwards, pushing the air out. In order to breath efficiently, we must breathe first into the belly, then ribs, then chest. Think of your thoracic cavity like an empty glass. As the glass fills with water, it hits the bottom of the glass first, then middle, then top. If we pour the water out, it empties from the top first, then middle, then bottom.
Now go ahead and try applying this analogy to your breathing practice. As we picture the diaphragm contracting and dropping downward, fill your "glass" from the bottom up. As the diaphragm relaxes, let your "glass" pour out from the top down. Many people breath directly into the chest, which taxes the secondary respiratory muscles like scalenes, sternocleidomastoid and pectoralis minor. Chest breathing will also raise your center of gravity, which will make you feel unstable and more anxious. Practice a few rounds of this 3-part breathing, imaging both the diaphragm and the air filling like water into a glass. I promise you'll feel more calm after :)
Empowerment beyond the massage table...
As a bodyworker and teacher, I love helping to educate people about their bodies. I think our relationship to our bodies is vitally important to our mental health. This blog features a few tools, articles, and fun facts to help you empower your body :) -Emily