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