The Relationship Of Breathing And Massage – Useful Tips For Massage Therapists
The quality of a masseur’s work is not only determined by his technical and anatomical knowledge and his professional experience. Of course, these matter a lot, and form the basis of a good and effective treatment, but there is a factor that may seem underlying and secondary at first, but is in fact all-pervading and influencing…
If you learn to apply this consciously and correctly, it can make your touch more sophisticated and thus your massage treatment more effective. However, as long as you apply it unconsciously and you have a bad day for example, and don’t pay attention to this, it can ruin your job at least as much.
This factor is your breathing technique
In this writing, I give you some practices, and if you learn to apply these, no matter how much professional knowledge and experience you have, from your next treatment you will be a much better massage therapist than you have been so far.
Our breathing is the only one basic life function that we can control at any time without much concentration or exertion, if we feel like it.
Although essentially a vegetative function, it is not necessary to learn any meditation technique to control it consciously. It can be controlled with a simple decision. “I want to take a breath now, I don’t want now. Now I want to sigh a long, deep one, now I just want to smoke small ones.” Breathing is also closely related to our current emotional state. If we are calm or focused, we are breathing more slowly, more measuredly, more evenly. If we are tensed or excited, we breathe faster, unevenly, sometimes with exertion. Our emotions affect our breathing, but the reverse is also true.
If breathing is unconscious, then emotions control it, if conscious, then breathing affects emotions.
You must have noticed that when you are calm, you can pay more attention to things, you can notice more from your environment, more from the world. Calm persons has sharper sight, hearing, smell, taste, and obviously the fifth sense also not left out of the line.
Yes, if you are calm, your touch will intensify and your hand will tremble less. You will also be able to make smaller, more concentrated movements, and blood and energy will flow better in you and your hands. This making your touch warm and sensitive.
How can you create this state in yourself while massaging?
The first and most important thing is that no matter what technique or movement you are making, try to be as aware of your breathing as possible. Make sure you breathe constantly, never hold it back. Inhale-exhale, without interruption, evenly. At a pace that suits you well, but not so slow as to be short of breath, and not fast enough to get dizzy. If you bring a steady rhythm to your work, it’s easier to feel the breathing as well. If you are stressed much, it is worth sitting and only breathing for 5-10 minutes before your treatment, as slowly and evenly as possible.
Slow, steady, conscious breathing calms your mind, and helps to gradually guide yourself into the present.
Is that the big secret?
Of course, not only that, but if you accomplish this in your work, it’s already half the success. If you pay attention to breathing evenly, you can’t make too much mistake anymore. You will be much more focused and much more sensitive in this way than without it. Your touch becomes higher spectrumed and your treatment deeper. This is the level zero. The beginning by which you can embark on the path of the art of breathing, which is a very effective self-knowledge technique by the way.
If you’re interested how you can develop your breathing technique even more in massage, read on!
The method of Chi-Kung
The conscious development of breathing and movement with focused attention is called Qi Gong (Chi-Kung) in Chinese medicine.
This technique forms the basis of many oriental movement arts.
With breathing, oxygen enters our body, and oxygen means energy to the body. Most things are true, if we pay attention to it, we are able to cultivate it more efficiently. Respiration is also no different. If we pay attention to when and how energy enters our body, that energy can move in us easily, and help us in functions more effectively than if we don’t pay attention it.
Along this principle, Chi-kung practices have been shown to have an immune-boosting effect. In China, in some hospitals, doctors still prescribe Chi-kung practices as well for simpler illnesses and colds.
The question may rightly be asked, “Then I will chi-kung in a massage, or what?” And the answer is maybe surprising, but: YES
If you’ve come across the concept of Chi-kung, and feel this answer a little weird, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Most people who have heard from Chi-kung mind the beautiful Tai-chi movements. However – as I wrote above -, Chi-kung is a much more general thing. Combination of breathing and movements with concentration. Only this is the base, the essence. And along this definition, this method can be applied in many other areas as well, out of martial arts and any other oriental movement arts.
What is the essence of Chi-kung more understandable?
At a basic level that, when you are practice it, try to be as aware of your current movement and breathing as possible. Pay attention to both of them and what changes they bring together in you. Chi-kung is an active meditation. And like all meditation, if you practice a lot, clears your mind to your everyday life. You will be more and more in the present and you will be able to focus on one thing at the time, but very much on that. And as with other techniques as well, once you have the basics, you can start paying attention to the details.
For example in this, at certain important movements, start the exhalation or inhalation and the present form of movement at the same time. Or pair faster breathing for faster movements and slower breathing for slower ones.
How do you apply the Chi-kung in loaded movements?
Basically, if you are working with some kind of load (tug of war, rowing, or massaging), it is advisable to schedule the exhalation when the parts with the higher load and higher concentration is on; and immediately in front of this you need to inhale as much oxygen as the body needs for the load.
The physiological significance of this is that when we inhale fresh oxygen, we are the strongest and most concentrated immediately after (at the exhalation).
The best, and perhaps easiest example of this is the rowing technique. When the athlete dips his oar into the water and pulls it to move, he blows out the air. When he/she lift the oar out of the water and prepare to pull again, then he/she saturates his/her lungs with another dose of oxygen (and energy). The former is the active phase and the latter is the passive phase.
Of course, not all sports and arts are as “black and white” as rowing. However, in everything we can find the more active and passive parts, and if we pay attention to these, we can support them with our breathing. It’s no coincidence that the secret to long-term, outstanding athletic performance is to have even and focused breathing, and if its possible, to find passive parts where the muscles don’t work, or work less.
Our skeletal muscles are strong, but they quickly get tired when they are in a continuous, uninterrupted load.
Good breathing technique can greatly increase the efficiency of a masseur’s work, especially if he/she know the method of the Momentum coordination.
How do you use Chi-kung in a massage?
To sum up and supplement the previous ones:
Be aware of your breathing.
Never hold back your breath, inhale-exhale continuously.
Look for more active, more loaded periods, moments, techniques in your work. Inhale just before these, and when you perform the loaded movement, exhale.
The dynamics of your breathing follow the dynamics of your movement. If the movement is slower, more prolonged, your breathing should be also slower, if the movement is faster, your breathing should be also faster.
First, try this technique in one movement only.Then continue to “traditionally” work, relax a little bit, leave time for your organization to process the new experience, the change. If you are a beginner and do too much this technique in a row; you may feel dizzy or short of breath because you don’t feel exactly how much oxygen you need to inhale; and how much – and at what rate – you need to exhale.
During inhalation (passive phase), fresh oxygen enters your lungs; and then, during exhale (active phase), your brain and muscles will function at a higher rate. Take advantage of this. At exhaling, focus on your perception. If you feel the essence of this thing, your palms will be warmer, and your touch will be sophisticated and more penetrating, Visualize the impact you want to have on your guest.
You should leave your mouth open a little, especially at the beginning. On the one hand, so that you are free to choose whether to take a breath on your nose or mouth; on the other hand, because you will see that there are parts where you need to breathe relatively quickly; and sometimes you can do this more easily and efficiently through your mouth. Moreover, if your mouth is loose and you’re not concerned with “what kind of face may I have,” you’ll be much better able to focus on anything. If you do this, both your work, your look and your whole being will be more spirited, more focused, and this will be felt by your guests as well.
In the beginning, you will probably have experiences of failure when you practice breathing techniques in your massage. Mainly because you inhale less or more air than you need and feel dizzy from it. In addition, you may be clumsy as a beginner in that you can’t adjust the duration of your breathing to the duration of your movement, and that gets out you of the rhythm and confuses the whole thing. Therefore, it is advisable to start only small, first with only one or two movements. If you do, the experience of success will be at least as much as the experience of failure. And with more and more practice, successes will become more and more dense, until in the end only they remain.
Once you have enough practice in this technique, you will feel that your breathing becomes one with your movement and touch. With the appropriate alternation of active and passive phases, your loading capacity will increase, you will be less tired in each treatment; and reduce the potential for injury.
Once you’re experienced, you’ll really enjoy the whole thing and it won’t be stressful to concentrate. Signs of this will appear not only on the quality of your work, but often on your face as well. From all this, you will shows impression of an artist who forgot himself/herself in his/her art. From this, from your guests, and from yourself, you will see and feel smiles much wider than usual.
Author: Sándor Nagy
Is there a massage school where breathing is taught in such detail?
Yes, there is.
Click HERE, if you are interested in!
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