Our fantastic massage therapist Tatina talks us through the importance of breathing deeply:
Many of my clients have lately come in telling me they have problems sleeping, they have anxiety attacks due to stress, they feel chest pains or feel tight in their chest and jaws or have problems breathing.
My experience is that a lot of people breathe very fast and shallowly, using only the upper parts of their lungs, and don’t activate their diaphragm much at all, which means they never manage to fill their lungs up completely with air.
It’s like a balloon that’s always deflated. Its walls get stuck to each other, eventually reducing the ability to inhale properly. The body is constantly starved of oxygen, leading to fast and shallow breathing. It is almost like drowning and can cause feelings of anxiety – often without us realising why.
I will always massage the chest muscles during treatment to encourage relaxation and deeper breathing. This almost always helps, and should be followed with simple breathing exercises.
Try the following every night before bed:
– Lie on your back with your knees bent so you feel comfortable and relaxed.
– Start by first breathing out as much as you possibly can. Empty your lungs of all that old stale air that has been in there so long due to your shallow breathing.
– When you have nothing left to breathe out, take a really deep breath in. This will happen automatically as your body gets starved of oxygen. Feel the fresh new air going down into your lungs and then all the way into your stomach. Make your stomach open up and rise as you inhale deeply.
– Repeat these simple steps a few times and feel how your breaths get deeper every time. Do it as slowly as you comfortably can to help relaxation further.
This will calm you down and help you sleep more easily as your body relaxes with deep breathing, just like in yoga. As your body gets more oxygen, it stops panicking about ‘drowning’. Your anxiety often reduces and you feel less stressed generally. A massage obviously helps even more, but this is a good exercise to do every day or even several times a day when you feel you need it. It will make you think about your breathing more often and start to gradually make you take deeper breaths than you used to. The exercise can be done sitting as well, so you can do it by your computer at work if you feel stressed and anxious.
This may seem very obvious, but how many times have you done these exercises yourself? I swear by them and do them every night when I go to bed, and they work every time!
Happy Breathing! Enjoy!