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Molly Farwell Gavin, LMT
Breathing More Awareness Into Your Bodywork
Potomac Massage Training Institute
. https://www.pmti.org/

Breathing More Awareness Into Your Bodywork

Breathing is a component of many wellness routines to some degree. Breath awareness enhances the quality of bodywork. Giving clients instruction to “breathe into” the area being worked on often stimulates the release massage therapists seek.

In training, massage therapists learn that inhalation activates the sympathetic nervous system (stress response), and exhalation activates the parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation response). They build on that principle to understand various techniques by which the breathing has a very real effect on the body and mental state. Various studies have shown that controlled breathing can calm the brain, lower blood pressure, and improve immune function. Inhalation stimulates areas of the brain that enhance emotional discrimination and memory, while exhalation slows the heart and cleanses the blood of toxic CO2.

Even more fascinating is the complexity of the interplay between inhalation and exhalation, which yields results seemingly greater than the sum of their parts. Rhythmic and nostril breathing can have profound effects on brain functions, and there are indications that particular breathing and meditation practices can improve or prevent some neurological diseases. Ancient traditions such as yoga have outlined many rhythmic breathing techniques that optimize the inhale-exhale exchange for different purposes. The yogic breathing technique of Nadi Shodhana, or Alternate Nostril Breathing, is particularly touted for its calming effects on the central nervous system. Every wellness routine has potential to benefit from breathwork.

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