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How often have we heard it or said it to ourselves in an effort to relax and regain emotional balance? Breathing is the essential cycle of our life energy, whether from the view of burning of fuel in our bodies or the yoga concept of Prana. As our exhalation releases used gasses and waste products from the body, and inhalation fills the body with oxygen and renewed energy, we can all agree that breathing is an absolute necessity: we don't last long without it!
Many people have difficulty maintaining steady, relaxed breathing so massage and somatic therapists regularly work with our clients' breathing to release restricted tissue, discharge emotional stress and improve treatment outcomes. Some of the issues associated with shortened or restricted breathing are:
tightened or scarred tissue from injury or surgery
stress from job, family, relationship, illness or natural disaster
overwhelming fear, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress / PTSD
nervous system dysregulation rooted in developmental or shock trauma
grief from loss and mourning
any of the above arising from a global pandemic
After applying massage and myofascial release to restricted tissues, breathwork techniques can be used to facilitate deep relaxation and emotional release, allowing for resolution of built-up stress, fear and negative emotion. Using rhythmic, circular, diaphragmatic breathing to "charge up" and then discharge emotional energy, breathwork can move us into a more sustainably relaxed, centered and regulated state.
My training and breathwork protocols are rooted in Reichian principles and somewhat similar to the breathing practices found in Kundalini yoga.
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