The Benefits of Somatic BreathingHeidi Hadley
Today I am going to discuss the importance and benefits of Somatic breathing. Breathing is a subject which I find clients have many questions about. But one question which jumps out to me is,
“There are lots of breathing techniques to help improve the quality of my breath. But which one should I really be trying? It’s very confusing.”
It is a good question. I would agree there are lots of breathing variations out there. But I always encourage them to perform somatic breathing. So why somatic breathing? What is it?
Firstly in most cases, people nowadays do not breathe deeply enough. Many are walking around in a figurative corset. Their diaphragm is very tight, the muscles between their ribs have very little movement and their abdominal muscles are so chronically tight, there is very little release of the muscles to allow a deep abdominal breath.
As I educate people to start living a somatic lifestyle, I encourage them to firstly, just start retraining their mind and body to work together and create a state of balance or homeostasis. When we do this, we are also addressing our emotional health. Collectively when we consider all these different facets, we are referring to our SOMA. As a soma, we have many areas which contribute to our health and well being - emotional, mental, physical and spiritual health. So by developing effective somatic breathing, we begin caring for our soma, slowing down and beginning to sense feedback.
The research into the effects of breathing are mounting and it is highlighting what an excellent stress reliever it truly is. The direct effect breathing has on the Parasympathetic nervous system has an influence on dampening down the effects of the ‘fight or flight’ response to stress. As a result it also lowers blood pressure, improves heart rate and makes the arteries more flexible.
Other benefits to deep breathing include an improved happier mood, a deeper quality of sleep with less wakeful periods than somebody who didn’t practise deep breathing 20 minutes before going to sleep. Less anxiety has been shown in people who practise regular deep breaths over many weeks. Consistency is key. Studies have also shown that slow breathing sessions for 30 minutes each day has a huge impact on lowering high blood pressure, the results could still be seen a month later. Slow deep breathing helps you to take in more oxygen to nourish the tissues and cells. In one study, breathing exercises done several times each day increased oxygen consumption by 37%.
So how can we develop somatic breathing to gain these benefits?
To be somatic means to be able to observe our internal sensations. Noticing the movement of the belly, ribs and chest as you inhale and exhale. Somatic breathing includes increasing sensory awareness to the throat, diaphragm, jaw and shoulders as we breathe. You see, many have lost their focus and become more interested in various breathing methods. Don’t get me wrong, they all have their advantages, but really when we are living somatically, we are increasing our awareness or mindfulness to how WE FEEL. We live in a fast paced society which means we often don’t sense anything from the neck down. We live in our heads all the time. When we develop somatic breathing, we start to slow down stress responses and live in the present. Thereby noticing what the SOMA is telling us. As Thomas Hanna the creator of the modality Somatics says, “ If you can sense and feel it, you can change it.” He was so correct. WE have an amazing mind and body which can unlearn habitual behaviour such as shallow breathing and start adjusting the way the sensory system communicates with the motor system. We can teach the SOMA to breathe deeply and enjoy the health benefits associated with it.
When we combine somatic movement sequences with the breathing, the benefits increase tremendously. We start to wake the body up and show the muscles that they can relax voluntarily, reducing the feeling of living in a corset, a body feeling bound up with muscle tightness and pain.
Learn how you too can reduce pain, improve mobility, breathe deeply and live an improved quality of life. Learn these amazing skills in the comfort of your own home by joining Mindfulness with Total Somatics. Start to take control of your health and enjoy the feeling of less pain and greater movement. Your present and future self will thank you for it.
See you on www.TotalSomatics.com.
Take care, Heidi Hadley
Free guided audio of breathing with the arch and flatten movement sequence.