Body Sense

WINTER | 2015

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www.massagetherapy.com—your resource for all things bodywork 7 Ever notice after a stressful circumstance that the body's innate response is to take a deep breath once the potential threat has passed? As soon as it is over, you might say, "Now, I can breathe a sigh of relief." Or, perhaps, you meet someone who is uplifting and enjoyable to be around; you might describe that person as "a breath of fresh air." Breath not only gives life through delivering essential oxygen to the body's cells for fuel and removing carbon dioxide, it also restores the body and mind to a state of balance when stressful experiences "take our breath away." BODYWORK AND BREATH If you are alive, you experience stress. There is no way around it. Stress can show up in myriad ways, whether good stress (first date, new job, travel) or bad stress (traffic, tight deadlines, losses). Either way, it's not easy to navigate, in large part due to the body's natural reactions designed to keep you safe no matter the nature of the stimulus. Fear, danger, and excitement are all perceived the same way on a physiological level. The sympathetic nervous system comes to our aid with responses that prepare us for action. In and of themselves, stress responses are gifts, even if they don't necessarily feel that way in the midst of experiencing them. For example, shaking informs you that adrenaline is circulating throughout your body, providing energy should you need to stand up and face something—or turn and run away. Adrenaline tells the heart to speed up so that enough blood and oxygen can be pumped to the tissues, especially muscle tissue that is required to effectively move you to action. Heart rate and breathing also kick up a few notches to supply oxygen to the brain so you have better capacity for navigating the immediate threat, whether real or perceived. All these are good, right? Well, maybe. The answer is yes, unless the stimuli are constant and not balanced with restoration and rejuvenation. It takes a lot of energy to maintain persistent action. Unfortunately, we live in a fast-paced world full of stimuli pelting us from every direction. Even without your conscious A Breath of Fresh Air Conscious Breathing During Your Bodywork Session By Cindy Williams, LMT

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