I found this exercise to be very relaxing and I hope you will give it a try.
The Benefits of Breathwork
By Anne Williams
Do you ever find yourself unconsciously holding your breath when you’re tense?
This can cause tension to build in your body and may let the chest collapse, leading to misalignment.
Proper breathing provides oxygen to the muscles and body, helps you stay relaxed and centered,
and even helps you maintain correct body alignment throughout your day.
You can also use breathwork as part of a stress-reduction program by following this
progressive relaxation exercise.
1. Begin by lying in a comfortable position without crossing your arms or legs, and focus on your
breathing to create a slow, deep pattern. Inhale through your nose while counting to 10 and
expanding your abdomen. Hold the breath for one second, and exhale through your nose on
the count of 10. Inhale and exhale in this pattern five times.
2. Beginning with your head, tense your facial muscles as tightly as possible and count to five.
Release the muscles completely, and sense the muscles feeling heavy and still. Work down
your entire body, tensing muscle groups and then relaxing them. After the head, move to the
neck, chest, arms and hands, abdomen, back, thighs and gluteals, lower legs,and feet.
3. After relaxing each set of muscles, mentally scan your body for any areas of remaining tension
and ask those areas to relax completely.
4. Repeat the slow breathing exercise.
5. Gently begin to move your body to come out of the deeply relaxed state.
Try using progressive relaxation directly before or after your massage sessions, directly before bed,
or at any time during the day as a pick-me-up. Focus on taking full, deep, even, rhythmic breaths.
With a little practice, you can become more aware of your own breathing patterns and use
breathwork effectively as you move throughout your day.
This article was published in Body Sense – Summer 2012.
Anne Williams is the director of education for Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals and author of Massage Mastery: from Student to Professional (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2012). She can be reached at email@example.com.