by Catriona Murray
One thing which I have noticed in my short (3 year!) time as a student practitioner is how often we forget to breathe, or rather, that we forget to breathe fully and deeply.
As a child my father used always to say “take 3 deep breaths” before anything scary or intimidating … I always took that as a turn of phrase. Not so! For me, those 3 deep breaths have become one of the most important ways of centring and calming, whether I am about to give a lecture to the great and the good of Edinburgh, or am simply beset by negativity which I have no idea how to dispel – breathing in to the count of 8 (4 seconds), holding for a bit (another count of 8) and breathing out to the count of 8 – I never fail to be astounded by the power of such a simple action.
But it’s not just important to breathe in moments of stress – learning to breathe fully and deeply, in a relaxed manner, at all times, is so so helpful for our well-being, mental and physical. We need plenty of oxygen to function, after all!
And … if you’d like to try abdominal breathing, or even take this up (in attenuated form) as your permanent breathing pattern, try this neat video example on youtube (or search for “abdominal breathing” or “belly breathing”).
To read more about the power of breath and breathing for reducing stress, try this article from Harvard Health Publications, or to find out about physiological benefits of breathing effectively, visit the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website.
This article was first published in February 2014 on the Edinburgh Shiatsu Clinic website and appears here with minor alterations (some articles we linked to are no longer freely available).
Find out more on the Shiatsu Society website.
What is Shiatsu?
Shiatsu translates as ‘finger pressure’ and is based on traditional Japanese massage. Combining acupressure, massage, flowing movement and joint rotations helps to disperse tension, reduce pain, promote relaxation and healthy functioning of the body systems (circulation, breathing, digestion etc.). Shiatsu therapists are guided by their experience & knowledge of physiology and traditional Chinese medicine and apply pressure using fingers, thumbs, palms and elbows and combine it with other techniques.
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