18 Jun Breath as a Healing Tool, Massage Returns, Massage for Dementia, Lymph Massage
The Impact of Breath on the Body
4 Techniques to Try at Home
You breathe every second of every day, but likely without placing your attention on it. It just happens. This life-giving force has the power to heal, but often goes under the radar instead of being given the acknowledgment it deserves. Breath work is a tool in your massage therapist’s toolbox, which they may employ during your massage sessions. This tool is versatile enough that you can also use breath exercises at home to facilitate the repair of stressed tissues.
Here is a quick look at the vast and profound benefits of this simple practice on a few of the key systems of the body, as well as an overview of some simple breath techniques you can utilize at home.
ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY OF BREATH: A SIMPLE VIEW
Breath is the movement of air into and out of the lungs. The primary function of breath on a physiological level is the exchange of gases in order to sustain life processes in the body by giving oxygen to the organs and tissues, and removing waste gas. The exchange happens in the lungs as well as in the capillaries throughout the body.
Breath requires the movement of two cavities of the body—thoracic and abdominal. Both change shape in the process of breathing. When you inhale, the diaphragm flattens, and ribs lift and expand to make room for air to be drawn into the lungs by a suction force. Simultaneously, the abdominal cavity descends down and forward, causing the abdomen to swell outward. When the thoracic cavity increases in volume with air, the space of the abdominal cavity has to shift in order to make room, so when an inhale causes the belly to expand, it’s a surefire sign that it is deep rather than shallow.
While exhalation is primarily passive, when you exhale (especially consciously), abdominal muscles push the abdominal cavity back toward center and up. The diaphragm releases, ribs release, and the rib cage narrows. Air is released (and can be consciously pushed) out of the body. The actions of these muscles in the processes of inhalation and exhalation are collectively known as the respiratory pump.