Breathing… Even though it keeps you alive for 5 more minutes there is so much more to it! 

As a massage therapist, I was trained to scan a clients’ torso to see if they are breathing (or not) for a couple of reasons. 

One is, that if the pressure is too hard, they are flinching, which is counter-productive to easing muscle tension.  Two, the act of breathing (or not) is a reflection of whether the “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system is still on high alert with stressors, or whether they are starting to relax and gear down. 

If I notice that someone is not breathing, I ask about the pressure.  And if the answer is “fine”, I might move into a little guided imagery for body awareness.  One that I suggest is relaxing in a certain area, like the front of the throat, the “belly”, the lap, the armpits, the face, the feet. Sometimes we slowly walk awareness through the body together from feet to head, “turning out the lights”. 

Then I will move on to asking them to breathe in spots that seem constricted, even if they are not directly related to the diaphragm.  You can breathe in your face, lap or feet, didn’t you know?

I like to give the analogy of breathing from the lap to the chin.  Think about your torso as an air mattress.  Before you start to fill an air mattress, it is flat and folded.  As air is pumped in, it starts to expand, filling out the shape of the rectangle and push out the corners.  By the time it is filled up, the air pressure has made the mattress firm.

Our hips and shoulders are “the corners” of this internal air mattress of our lungs.  Without sufficient pressure the whole torso is weak, just like an air mattress that goes flat by the morning.  No wonder our shoulders and legs bother us!  We don’t have sufficient air pressure to keep us afloat! 

Breathe!  –  Because you get to!”  (You are still living, right?)

Fill up your air mattress!


The Postures: The Cat Hissing

Shrug your shoulders up really high.  Do you notice how tight this makes your neck? This is the hissing cat posture.

It appears when our internal emotional pressure builds- and someone might get hurt soon!  … Unless, we feel it is inappropriate to vent, and so our neck gets stiff.

This is like a steam kettle getting ready to hiss, but there is no steam vent. Another picture would be an armed grenade, ready to explode, splattering shrapnel all around!  Your blood pressure might be high…

We start to notice shoulder and neck pain, a headache, or a migraine.  If issues are unresolved by sleep time, it turns into TMJ, with teeth grinding and problems that can become dental issues.  The scalp is usually stretched tighter than a swimming cap!  Can you really stomach what is going on in your life?  The whole upper back can curl forward with stomach issues, just like with vomiting reflexes.

Next time you have a headache, neck or shoulder pain, are you really being honest with your emotions?

As I have noted in a previous segment, finding a good vent is good!  Some I have used or heard of are:

Exercise and creating something you feel is beautiful helps channel frustrations constructively.

Exercise helps!  There are the martial arts, with the kicking and yelling in an appropriate venue, and you’ll feel great afterwards!  There’s distance running until you’ve “pounded” (the problem) into the pavement” and have worn yourself out and are ready to face the world again.  Also, there’s target shooting, and weight lifting, anything that channels aggression. For kids a mini trampoline helps keep them in a small space, yet lets out their energy. (It has great health benefits, too!)

If you can’t get away from the house, I have found ironing, juicing, riding a stationary bike/elliptical machine and cleaning/scrubbing with purpose until I calmed down have all really helped.  I have also suggested going in the bedroom and kicking and screaming into a pillow on your bed, but I don’t know if many take me up on this.  If you were comfortable venting your emotions already, you wouldn’t be having problems, anyway…

Speaking of, are you being honest with your emotions?  Does something need to change…but not yet?  Figure out something that doesn’t hurt you in the long run and let off some steam!

Have a crack at the arts or climbing into whatever you find that’s beautiful.  It can help transform your mood!  Focusing on a creative project helps redirect that energy into something positive.  Music, even if you don’t have talent can “have charms to soothe the savage (angry) beast”!

See what you think, and as always, chime in on what works for you!