A new quarter begins; new massage students enter the massage lab excited, nervous, and ready to begin the journey of learning Swedish massage. As a massage therapist and an instructor, I have learned self-care is an important part of being a massage therapist. We begin the journey of self-care in this first class and it continues throughout students’ journey in the massage therapy program, hopefully to be instilled in them by graduation so they have a long and healthy career.
On the first day of Swedish massage class I teach what I call craniosacral breathing. Recently we stopped between trades to take a few moments to practice this self-care technique. This is one of my favorite techniques to teach students and clients. It is amazing.
Why, you ask?
Well, it has two major benefits, helping with posture and resetting the nervous system. Due to our modern lifestyles of sitting at the computer, driving cars, playing video games and having sedentary jobs, many of us have created what I have named squirrel posture (hunched with head forward). Craniosacral breathing helps correct this.
Once in the position we open our chests to un-round our shoulders. We set our head and sacrum into position to lengthen the spine, since gravity also helps to take that away from us. Next, with our knees up and our feet straight we take the rotation outward out of our hips which comes from sitting.
Lastly, we lay our arm palms face up to take the spiral out of our arms from compensating for the rounded shoulders. Then we just breathe focusing on pushing our stomachs out as far as they go as we inhale. On the exhale we sink deep into the floor. Students often comment on how they feel like things are moving while they are breathing.
The other benefit of craniosacral breathing is to reset the nervous system. Most of the time in our hunched postures we put pressure on our nerve roots that are used for high stress situations such as running from a bear. We should not be constantly running in this state. This method put the pressure on the nerve roots that puts us in the relaxed state. All this happens in a mere three to five minutes. We all have 3-5 minutes to dedicate to ourselves at least once a day.
After the time passed in class today the atmosphere in the classroom changed. The anxiety dissipated and class was focused and ready to move on to the next massage trade.
This quarter the Swedish class has been invited to come early to class for a 15-minute morning stretch to get ready for class. This is one more way I can model to my class self-care can take place and doesn’t have to be something grandiose.
Interested in learning craniosacral breathing? Stop a massage student or ask me!
As always, hydrate and smile!
Written By: Robin Rinehart, Massage Therapy Program Chair at Globe University – Madison East