Massage does not only occur when you see your therapist, it is also applied through your awareness of your own body. That is right, you massage your own body. The most important and viable step to becoming aware of your body is through each breath. Taking a few minutes throughout the day to focus on your breath will massage your organs, stimulate your kidneys, strengthen your muscles, and increase the production of saliva and blood circulation. You will increase your overall health to help fight off diseases. Most importantly, you will become unison with your mind, body, and soul.
Before I begin to describe how you focus on your breath, I want to show you the muscles involved and how the inhalation/exhalation process works. Visualizing your body’s movements during your breath enhances your overall experience, making each breath stronger. I want you to keep in mind these videos do not show the abdominal muscles contracting and relaxing which happen automatically with each inhalation/exhalation process.
This first video establishes the muscles used during each breath within the thoracic cavity only.
Knowing the muscles used, you can now visualize these muscles in action with the help of this video.
Let us begin:
1. Get yourself comfortable and relaxed either with a soft stance or laying with your upper body elevated. These two positions are the easiest to get full breathes and to learn the technique.
2. Place one hand below your sternum (the long center bone that divides your rib cage), which is now resting on your diaphragm, and the other on your lower abdomen (lower stomach). Take a moment to feel how your hands are moving. Is your chest and the top hand moving at the same time or does your top hand move followed by your chest? Is your inhalation shallow and short or deep and long?
3. Relax your tongue and jaw by placing the tip of your tongue on the back of your front teeth and your lips lightly touching. Your tongue will naturally arch to the roof of your mouth.
4. Inhale; concentrate taking the oxygen via the throat. You should hear the air entering your throat like hearing a seashell held against your ear. Notice how you can pull more oxygen in and having more control of your breath, exhale. Repeat until you are comfortable with this step.
5. Bring your attention back to your hands. Focus only on your top hand moving while you inhale; it will not be a drastic lift of your hand. Try drawing your lower abdomen inwards with a continuous hold while breathing. Exhale. This is the hardest step to learn and it will take you time to master. Repeat until you feel comfortable with this step.
6. Inhale again, focusing on your top hand moving not your lower hand, expand your chest taking in more oxygen. You should see the front of your ribs expanding as well as feeling the back of your ribs expanding. Exhale. Repeat until you feel comfortable with this step.
Now let us bring a natural flow to your inhalation and exhalation process:
1. Jaw, tongue, and lips relaxed. Make sure the tip of your tongue is sitting on the back of your top teeth.
2. Inhale for a count of 6. Keep lower abdomen drawn, feel top hand lift then expand your chest.
3. Hold for 4 seconds
4. Exhale by relaxing ribs then relaxing diaphragm (top hand). Hold for 4 seconds. Exhalation is the same count as your inhalation.
5. Gradually increase your count as you begin to master diaphragmatic breathing.