Our breath holds a sacred key to unlocking our body’s potential. With every inhalation we bring life and energy to the body and with every exhalation we clear the space. When we observe the breath we cultivate self-awareness. By tuning in we maintain a present awareness of our thoughts, feelings, sensations and surroundings – calming the mind and calming the body.
Thoughts, feelings, beliefs and attitudes can positively or negatively impact our biological functioning. Emotions like fear, anxiety, sadness and anger (just to name a few) can have a physical response within the body. These responses may contribute to various imbalances, increased stress hormone levels and even changes in body functions at a immunologic level. What does this have to do with breath? Everything.
We are constantly gathering information. Our nervous system collects sensory input from the body and external environment, processes and responds. As part of the central nervous system, the autonomic nervous system regulates the millions of non-conscious decisions our body makes daily. Controlling heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, breath and so much more. The two main divisions of the autonomic nervous system include the sympathetic and parasympathetic and together these two divisions work to make sure our body responds appropriately to its environment.
Our sympathetic nervous system is activated in times of stress, it releases hormones that keep the body on high alert and slow processes that are less important in times of danger such as urination and digestion. This is important however there needs to be a healthy balance between fight or flight and rest and digest, our body craves balance. When experiencing levels of high stress, it can be easy to find ourselves stuck in a cycle of constant fight or flight. One powerful tool to increase the relaxation response we all have access to is breath. By focusing on breath, we can bring peace to the body in times of stress, bringing our body back to a place of balance.
By incorporating breathwork into bodywork sessions and/or as part of your wellness routine clients may achieve a greater sense of self-awareness and capacity for healing through self-regulation of the nervous system. Our breath, like our heartbeat, is the most reliable rhythm in our lives. When we become attuned to this constant rhythm, our breath can gradually teach us to come back to the original silence of the mind. — Donna Farhi
Today I invite you to tune in to your breath – without judgement, just notice the cool air entering your body and the warm air exiting the body. Notice if your breath seems long or shallow. Are you breathing from your chest or your belly? Start to lengthen your inhales and exhales, breathing in through the nose and breathing out through the mouth. Investigate if you can inhale for a count of 5, and then exhale for a count of 5. Continue this for 3 rounds before gently bringing your breath back to a natural pace. Use this exercise at the beginning of a practice when you need a moment to reconnect or just for fun. Your breath is powerful, tune in to find the balance and calm that is always available to you.
Stephanie McCutchin is a Licensed Massage Therapist and owner ofSakom Massage and Wellness. The word Sakom is inspired by the Menominee language and translates to extending peace to yourself and others. Creating a peaceful space for clients to relax, recharge, and recuperate is the main focus at Sakom. Stephanie’s practice is located in the historicWillow Tree Wellness center in the heart of Lodi, Wisconsin. The center is solely dedicated to professional healers who offer a variety of services. To learn more about massage and to book your appointment today call, 608-564-5330 orclick here.