Close your eyes, take a deep breath, let it out slowly and smile. This statement is printed on the back of my business cards for a reason. It is to remind my clients of one of the most important functions in life– to breathe joyfully. Joyfully? Absolutely.
Years ago when I was in theater arts program we spent a lot of time learning to breathe for voice projection, then when I was studying Kinesiology I studied the importance of posture and controlled breathing for energy, and finally don’t even get me started on the breathing in natural child birth. It had occurred to me that maybe this action we take for granted might really be more than a way to continue life. It might be a way to enhance the quality of it.
Just to drive the point home, I have had the opportunity to begin the practice of Yoga and guess what one of the main elements is... conscious breathing. Yoga allows me the opportunity to focus on my breath, observe its effect on my state of being, and to feel how the different types of breathing affect me systemically. Do you belly breathe or chest breathe, is it hollow or deep, fast or slow? When you take a deep breath do you fill the belly first and then the chest or do you fill the chest watching it rise and then fill the belly. How do those two techniques affect the spine? When you take these different types of breath where do you feel tension, what movement can you observe, and where are the disconnects? Knowing this about your self is the first step to bringing awareness to the table.
We are taught in basic massage courses to observe clients breathing as a tracking device but I have found that there is so much more to it then measuring comport level. As a body worker I constantly find myself coaching clients thru different breathing techniques. It occurred to me that as I seek to become a more effective therapist that this is a component that I could expand on. It turns out I’m not alone. Many advance technique educators are continuing to develop this concept until breath has actually become a modality that can aid progress. I was recently at a class where Eric Dalton reminded us that if we are not getting the muscular release that we are seeking with our clients, one of the first things to check is the client's breathing pattern and to orchestrate a better one.
To Do List
Breath In, Breath Out, Repeat. I often begin my time with clients by encouraging them to breathe in an aromatherapy synergy. It goes like this – I place the oils in my hands, have the client close their eyes, take a deep breath, count to five and make a wish. Also I have discovered that during a session if I pause, take a deep audible breath, let it out slowly and smile – my clients will too... Sometimes it is the non verbal communication that delivers the most powerful message.