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Diaphragmatic breathing: Retrain your breath

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Diaphragmatic breathing (or abdominal breathing) is breathing that is done by contracting the diaphragm, the muscle located horizontally between the chest and stomach cavity. It is marked by expansion of the abdomen rather than the chest, maximising the oxygen absorbed in to the bloodstream. Diaphragmatic breathing helps to break the body’s ‘fight or flight’ mechanisms and return to more relaxed rhythms, hence it is often used as a technique to combat stress or if you are experiencing pain.diaphragmatic breathing

I encourage my clients at Brighton Bodyworks to utilise diaphragmatic breathing during their massage to help aid relaxation, and to ease any discomfort if we are working on areas of injury or tension. It really does increase the effectiveness of the treatment.

Becoming aware of your breath pattern and then modifying it takes practice, but the benefits make the effort worthwhile. Taking a few moments a day to be mindful of your breath following these simple techniques is the best place to start.

Session 1:

Purse the lips as though you are holding a straw and blow out the flame of a candle 12 inches away from you
Sit, stand or lie on a bed
Place your dominant hand on the abdomen and the other hand on the chest
Inhale through the nose
Exhale through the mouth with pursed lips
Ensure that there is a diaphragmatic movement (of the abdomen)

Session 2:

On exhalation slowly count 100-200-300-400-500-600 up to 10. The first time you might only get up to 300, only go as far as you can without struggling and getting light headed – it is about ease of effort.
Inhalation is half the length of time as exhalation, (2:2 ratio exhalation:inhalation).
If it takes up to 400 for you to count during exhalation then your inhalation will be a 200 count.
Pause between your exhalation and inhalation for a count of 100.
Work up to 30 breaths over a period of weeks and months.

Session 3 gets a little more complicated so we will look at that in more detail in a later post.

If you  are interested in massage therapy for relaxation, to aid recovery from injury or to enhance your sporting performance, Brighton Bodyworks can tailor a treatment specifically for your needs. Massage Therapist Amy Weinberger combines a number of advanced clinical massage techniques from Trigger Point Therapy, Myofascial Release and Sports Stretching with more holistic techniques to promote deep relaxation and wellbeing such as Hot Stone Therapy and Aromatherapy. A massage at Brighton Bodyworks is like no other! Visit http://massagetherapy-brighton.co.uk or call 01273 729691 for appointments.

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