Just Breathe: Using Breath to Reduce Stress Written by Robert Sachs, L.M.T., co-founder of Diamond W
Updated: Nov 24, 2019
As a spa professional, whether in massage or aesthetics, when you are at your best, clients feel the intelligence of your touch and the goodness of heart with which they are received on the treatment table or chair. This is what makes what is offered memorable to clients.
And, yet, hectic schedules, home, and other demands leave you distracted at best and overwrought at worst, as you muscle through to give your best in spite of the stress and tension that dances in your mind and tires your body. The result can be burnout, physically and emotionally.
When things get to an edge or fever pitch, manipulating your schedule, negotiating for fewer clients, more time off, or time between them can help. Creating a workout schedule that is stress-busting and gives you strength to muscle on is another great strategy that can go a long way. But, both of these demand time, which may be in short supply.
This is where the one thing that keeps you alive from moment to moment comes in handy: breath.
Learning to breathe more fully, learning exercise practices that rely on the coordination of breath with movement, such as yoga and tai chi, the yoga of breath known as pranayama, and the use of breath as the focal point of meditation are habits and practices that can slow you down from the inside without necessarily changing your pace.
Here is one simple practice you can do and even offer to clients as daily self-care.
Abdominal breathing is what a baby does, yet with the demands of life, as we get older, breathing can become shallow. How do we get back to that simple, soft, baby belly breath?
Stand with your feet a shoulder’s width apart. Now, whether in shoes or with bare feet, try to clutch or grip the ground with your toes. Breathe. Notice that as you breathe, suddenly your breath is moving down towards your belly. This is a simple Ayurvedic principle that, as you direct your attention and engage in such an action, the breath will follow. For a client, to have them breathe more deeply to relax, have them draw their knees up and ask them to grip the table with their toes. If on a chair, ask them to squeeze their toes for a few moments. Once they feel the breath in their bellies in this way, allowing the breath to go in that direction will become easier and easier.
Breath has oxygen vital to life. This is the physical component of what in Ayurveda is known as prana, or in traditional Chinese medicine, ch’i. Working with the breath in a deep natural way can change how you work. Adding practices such as yoga, tai chi, or meditation will enhance your work and life. As the pressure in time subsides, more space and ease will come. And, from that space and ease, sharing your skills and generous heart will remain peaceful, natural, and nurturing for both you and your clients.