For centuries people have soothed the mind, and become aware of their bodies through the breath.  We breathe roughly 20,000 times daily! Respiration consists of ventilation, and circulation.

The term “Tidal volume” (the volume of air we breathe) marries natural imagery, and science.  As a Massage therapist, I am deeply aware of respiration. 

The respiratory system is both complex and extensive! Further, it has impressive secondary functions.  It provides a foundation for core body strength,  affords tissue with longevity, and protects the back. 

An exercise class designed specifically to enhance respiration;  What  that class looks like; what  is its goal? 

Massage therapy targets circulation, frees, and relaxes a surprisingly diverse array of ventilation muscles.  As I have become familiar with these muscles, I glimpse the workforce, and begin to appreciate the profundity of the respiratory apparatus to daily outcomes.  Applying massage technique, I direct circulation: “Effleurage” moves blood towards the heart in a long, slow sweep.  Through “Tapotement” (percussion), my hands contact my patient’s body in a steady, drumming rhythm, either using broad face, narrow edge, or finger-tip — drawing oxygenated blood.  During massage, I, and my patient, take the opportunity to balance inhalation and exhalation; the mind turns inward, and facilitates the perfusion of ventilated blood to body tissues.  This powerful relaxant is known as “Conscious deep breathing”, during which you can observe physical and psychological barriers.

My thoughts on an exercise class result in a design that interweaves three elements from my massage training:  Aerobic activity (ventilation), self-percussion (circulation), with conscious breath control (deep core engagement). I call the concluding exercise the “anatomical breath”, and it requires aerobic endurance – it made me short of breath!  The last exercise has another surprise in store:  The mind slows, and subjugates to spirit, and a mental steadiness ensues — one of the prises of meditation!

Come work with me on the rhythm of the breath:  Invoke the power of the deep core to protect your back, and improve athletic performance.  Introduce yourself to the major anatomical players in this system.  Master the anatomical breath, and be lulled by the recurring wash of the tidal breath as you conclude in a meditative mind space; come join our class today.

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By Ashley Easterbrook, RMT

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