Breathing is one of the key elements to awareness, relaxation, and performance and to life. You can go weeks without food, days without water but only 3 minutes - without Air. WE all breathe. And thank goodness like our heart pumping - breathing is on the subconscious level. MFR is amazing at bringing the subconscious to the level of awareness so you can affect the programming of it. So yes - Breath is one of the things I focus on in treatment. So many things affect how you breathe, your muscle tone and coordination, flexibility of the rib cage and thoracic spine and their orientation in space all play a part. Using accessory muscles during breathing becomes a bad habit that causes you to breath shallow and have poor oxygen exchange. The mind/emotions also affects the attitude of the breath and vice versa. Everyone has heard someone take a big sigh of relief at some point in their life. We hold our breath in anticipation or to bolster our strength on a push through moment (another bad habit to get into). One of the quickest ways to mess with the breath is to make a conscious effort to breath. It's not meant to be controlled - it's meant to be enjoyed. Does that mean you shouldn't try to coordinate your breath - no. For example Pilates training very much has a breath awareness piece to the training and they orchestrate your breathing just like they orchestrate your movements so the two help each other coordinate the full body and mind complex. That is very good programming as long as you allow your body to figure it out as you go and don't get too rigid about getting it perfect. The former results in subconscious performance of the work with easy progression and the latter results in constant difficult effort to produce arduous, incremental improvements.
One of the home exercises with breath work you may find helpful is to lay flat on a firm surface (carpeted floor or Pilates mat work well) I like to have people put a folded hand towel under the sacrum and a thin pillow folded in half under the thoracic spine. The position should be comfortable with a mild stretch across the chest. You can leave your arms out to the side in a T or down by your sides. Think of having weights on your shoulders or someone pulling on your hands to lengthen through to the fingertips. Then just notice your breath. Notice if you feel more movement on one side or the other. Does the tummy rise first or does the rib cage? Now try thinking of a favorite smell - is that fresh baked bread? hot apple pie, a rose? Imagine this smell and sniff deeply and fully. Did you notice the breath travel differently? Continue sniffing the imagined smell and expel the breath slowly through pursed lips with back pressure to slow and lengthen the exhaliation. Imagine that smell filling you up permeating your being down to your toes. Feel each breath cause a moment of tension as the rib cage and body expand - feel where all that expansion goes. And on each exhale follow the relaxation as it flows from your system enjoying the let go. Imagine letting go of anything that does not serve you and letting it flow down into the earth. Breathe back in that which serves you. Try to be with the breath like this for five minutes. Be willing to move as you need to, exploring the release of tension throughout your body.
Sharon Lindy P.T.
I'm a Physical Therapist who grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania, went to Oregon to see the ocean for the first time (and attend college) Moved to Texas once I graduated because I thought I had to prove I was independent and I've been a bit of a traveler ever since. I love horses, MFR and seeing the United States. Welcome to my site.