Deep breathing supports and enhances the goals of massage therapy as taught in massage training school. Often called abdominal breathing or belly breathing, deep breathing promotes blood flow, increases the effectiveness of the lymphatic system, and supports organ detoxification. Moreover, abdominal breathing lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, and can be used at any time to decrease stress and tension. Deep breathing promotes physical relaxation, the goal of every massage client.
Implementing Deep Breathing into Massage Therapy
Teaching and modeling deep breathing for massage clients can benefit them on and off the table, potentially leading to a life of less pain and stress. In a 2010 study comparing the pain response of women with fibromyalgia and women in good health, both groups reported a lower intensity of pain and reduced emotional discomfort when utilizing slow, deep breath.
Author Thich Nhat Hanh writes: “We must go back to the present moment in order to be really alive. When we practice conscious breathing, we practice going back to the present moment where everything is happening.” By being in the present moment with your client, while also encouraging them to be in the present moment through deep relaxed breath, the healing and benefits of massage are expanded and supported.
Deep Breathing and your Massage Practice
Helping massage clients learn deep breathing techniques, such as expanding the breath into the belly and chest, will help to relax the muscles and bring a deeper sense of calm. If a client finds it difficult to apply these techniques, practitioners may focus their massage on the chest and abdominal muscles to relax this area.
Like yawning, deep breathing is contagious. Practitioners may demonstrate breathing through taking slow, deep breaths during the massage.
The best and most effective massage therapist schooling will cover breathing techniques and how to incorporate these techniques into therapeutic massage. If you’re contemplating a NW massage therapy school, consider the school’s emphasis on healing and the breath-body connection. Take an introductory class, tour campus, and chat with admissions officers about course content. Find out if the school teaches students about the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, and how deep breathing and massage both serve to activate the “rest and digest” relaxation response of the parasympathetic nervous system. Here at East West College, we cover this information in our anatomy and kinesiology courses. Call our admissions office today at 503-233-6500 to learn more.