Dedicated to Marsha Yudkin and for all others who breathe.
A primary aspect to breathing is in the exhale and extending it. “He/she is a great hugger” is often a compliment to a person who really makes you feel accepted, and at ease. Aside from the emotional and social aspects of acceptance and self esteem, a “real good hug” is a mild form of breathing therapy.
There is a natural breathing reflex that invites a very deep breath; deeper than you can take if you try and take a deep breath by yourself. The key to it is in tricking the nervous system into letting the muscles of the rib cage go so that the lungs can fill up easier and fuller.
A hug is one of those types of “tricks”. This stimulates a deeper parasympathetic nervous relaxation response See OBR's in the Secrets of Optimal Natural Breathing manual and you experience a sense of calm, ease or pleasurable excitement.
When a friend has already just finished exhaling try “hugging them around the mid to lower chest and gently squeezing a little more air out of them. Let go immediately but smoothly so they can take a relaxed, effortless, deeper inhale. It’s probably best to warn them a little before you try this as many are not used to such intensity of contact and will spontaneously tighten up what are called accessory breathing muscles.
Did it work? Great, now wait about ten relaxed breaths and do another “extended exhale hug”. Then it’s your turn.
You may want to look more deeply into how to make this work even better. Study and develop your breathing, for life.