The Healing Power of Breath, MASSAGE Magazine Self-Care TipBreath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness,
which unites your body to your thoughts.
   —Thich Nhat Hanh
Breath is the principal and essential power that can assist us as we give and receive the energy of healing. The healing power of breath can be developed and enhanced by focusing on breathing practices. Actualizing the power of breath creates a healing environment for emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual breakthroughs. 

There are four basic types of breathing:  clavicular, thoracic, abdominal and upper back breathing. Combining them in a continuous cycle is optimal.

  • Clavicular breathing, the most shallow, involves only the area of the clavicle.
  • Thoracic breathing is done with the rib muscles, expanding the rib cage.
  • Deep abdominal breathing brings air to the lowest and largest part of the lungs.
  • Upper back breathing fans out the upper back as if you were a magnificent King Cobra.

Experiencing a Full Breath

  1. Exhale deeply, contracting the belly
  2. Inhale slowly as the belly naturally expands
  3. Continue inhaling as you expand the front of the chest (thoracic)
  4. Inhale as you expand the upper chest (clavicular)
  5. Inhale as you expand the upper back (King Cobra)
  6. Inhale until your lungs are filled to capacity
  7. Pause for a few comfortable seconds
  8. Exhale in the reverse pattern, slowly, smoothly and completely
  9. Release the shoulders, relax the back, relax the chest and let the belly contract
  10. Pause for a few comfortable seconds
  11. Repeat in a continuous cycle. 

Using the connected breath is one of the simplest and most powerful techniques there is for centering and balancing. 

Ariana Vincent, The Healing Power of Breath, MASSAGE Magazine Self-Care TipAriana Vincent, L.M.T., M.T.I., N.C.T.M.B., is a Nationally Certified Massage Therapy Instructor and workshop leader based in Austin, Texas. Learn more about her at