Stretching and Breathing

The Ariana Institute’s Self Care for the Massage Therapist Manual is part of a series of massage manuals that are designed to help deepen the knowledge of current massage therapists and introduce new massage therapists to the world of massage and bodywork. The Self Care for the Massage Therapist Manual features topics that are also available as NCBTMB approved online CE courses through the Ariana Institute at, including:

  • Self Care and Body Mechanics
  • Stretching and Breathing
  • Meditation as a Therapeutic Tool
  • Mindfulness in a Therapeutic Setting

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This manual incorporates detailed protocols, photos, links to online videos, marketing strategies, personal stories, and resources to encourage a comprehensive understanding of self care modalities beneficial for yourself and your massage practice.

Here’s a personal story about stretching and breathing featured in the Self Care for the Massage Therapist Manual.


My first experience with formal stretching and breathing exercises began in 1979 when I joined a lovely meditation group in south Austin and started practicing yoga with my friend Riki Dunn at the YWCA. This experience helped me learn about the importance of stretching and breathing exercises as I became aware of the effects of proper breathing and regular stretching to help alleviate stress, physical discomfort, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Throughout the years since then, I’ve incorporated different programs of breathing and stretching into my life. Now, one of my favorite activities during the week is going to Hatha yoga on Sunday afternoons at the Hills Fitness Center with a fabulous instructor, Manu Verma. I always feel deeply transformed by the experience of practicing yoga with him. His classes take me on a journey of breath, movement, sound and meditation.

Restorative yoga is another form of stretching and breathing that I find deeply relaxing and centering. It is the centering of your breath and body – aligning the physical and mental by practicing stillness or gentle movement for extended periods of time. I usually do this once a month during the new moon, although I know I could benefit from doing it more often.

In addition to yogic practices and stretching activities, I have participated in Somatic Experiencing sessions with Miriam Klotz, a psychotherapist who trained with Dr. Peter A. Levine, a psychologist and biophysicist who founded the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute. During these body-oriented sessions, Miriam incorporated a variety of Somatic Experiencing techniques to help relieve and resolve the symptoms of stress by focusing on my perceived body sensations (or somatic experiences). This helped release stored emotions and facilitate the healing process. Breath and imagery were integral parts of this therapy. Calming and centering techniques were learned that became a part of my self care outside of the therapist’s office.

My personal experience with stretching, breathing and self care has proven to be very beneficial to me personally and professionally. It has increased my empathy for those who are suffering and it has given me strength and more appropriate tools to help people through traumatic situations and physical discomfort. As for myself, a focus on self care has given me a firm foundation from which to live in a balanced and sensible way while taking time to have fun, be open to love, and enjoy life to its fullest.

Ariana Vincent was awarded the 2015 CE Provider of the Year Award by the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education. She is a Nationally Certified Massage Therapy Instructor whose classes are accepted throughout the United States. Ariana is also a Massage Therapy Hall of Fame Honoree and author of the Ariana Institute’s therapy manual series available on Amazon.

To read the foreword of the Self Care for the Massage Therapist Manual, visit
The Ariana Institute’s video introduction to the Self Care and Body Mechanics, Stretching and Breathing, Meditation as a Therapeutic Tool and Mindfulness in a Therapeutic Setting CE courses can be accessed on the Ariana Institute’s YouTube Channel at
To order your copies of the Ariana Institute’s Self Care for the Massage Therapist Manual, visit
For additional information about the Ariana Institute and to register for online continuing education and MTI courses visit

Ariana Vincent, LMT, MTI, NCTMB
Ariana Vincent, LMT, MTI, NCTMB


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