You Can’t Heal if You Don’t Breathe

A settled nervous system is a prerequisite to healing. -Resmaa Menakem MSW, LICSW

I recently participated in a book club. A new friend invited me because she was aware of the work I do and we had recently had a conversation on how to create yoga classes that are trauma sensitive. The book was My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem, MSW, LICSW.

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The book takes a look at how trauma is held in the body and not just influences our behavior but often overrides our thinking and in turn our actions. The book focus on race issues in our culture and the cultures of our ancestors. Despite having studied quite a bit about body based therapies, breathing, and the nervous system, this book brought many “wows”, “interesting!” and “I never looked at it that way” from me. I think it is an important book and everyone can benefit from reading it.

When I meet a new client, one of the first things I check is how they breathe. Are they using their diaphragm? Not just to settle down or sing, but ALL THE TIME. It is our most natural way to breathe. Our body has a built in efficient way to breath but we don’t use it for many reasons. I always tell my clients, if you get nothing else from me, please breathe with your diaphragm ALL THE TIME.

One of the first videos I created was about diaphragmatic breathing. Even though, it was a early effort, I keep it up because it is important. Please take the time to view it. Three and a half minutes.

I tell my clients that they must breathe with their diaphragm when I’m working on them. I am able to do sooooo much better work for them when they are breathing correctly which in turn relaxes their nervous system and their entire body. We practice it until they can feel it and do it on their own. Surprisingly many people find it quite challenging. During myofascial release work, it makes a huge difference in the outcome.

Regardless of what you are healing from, learn to settle your nervous system. It is the first step to healing.

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