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Fishermen Wellness: Breathing

Updated: Mar 14, 2022

By Antonia Small, Oryx Worx

Are you getting stressed out about work/life?

The next time you get stressed out, take a moment to notice how you are breathing.

Toni Small is a Yoga Instructor and owns Oryx WorX. She lives in Port Clyde with her husband John Cotton a commercial fisherman.


Through your nose?



Is it different than your relaxed breath pattern?

How many breaths do you normally take in a minute?

Controlling your breath and learning to use the breath as a tool to calm yourself or bring focus to a task can go a long way toward supporting physical and mental health.

If you find yourself breathing fast or open-mouthed all the time, that might be a good indication you could benefit from some breathing practices to slow down. Overbreathing can shift the chemical balance in the blood and keep your nervous system ramped up into a fight or flight response that can be exhausting and take its toll on your outlook.

Next time you find yourself stopping to notice how you are breathing, try blowing out the breath across pursed lips, and then take a small sip of breath in through your nose, then exhale slowly through the nose, sip of breath on the inhale, slow long exhale. Repeat a few times and notice if anything changes.

Or, you might try the Square Breathing practice (see video below). Don’t feel you have to take a deep breath in. Sip the air in through your nose, pause gently, exhale easy, and pause gently again. Repeat a few times to get the hang of that. Use either practice throughout your day or to help you fall asleep.

Note: There is no sound in this video. It is meant to guide your breathing.

Video by Antonia Small, Oryx Worx

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Each monthly blog post on Fishability highlights a work task that is commonly completed by a fisherman (like mending traps) and a complementary stretch (like Half Down Dogfish) that can help alleviate the aches & pains that come with repeating the task.


This post is part of our ongoing partnership and series with FishAbility and Oryx Worx.

FishAbility’s mission as part of the Maine AgrAbility Program is to work with fishermen whose productivity has been impacted by chronic illness or injury. They offer resources, information, and practical solutions to help fishermen work safely and productively. FishAbility supports fishermen, lobstermen, oyster farmers, people working in aquaculture, and family members of fishing businesses who experience barriers to employment such as aging, injury, or chronic illness.

The Maine Coast Fishermen's Association, FishAbility staff, and OryxWorx have partnered together to help share stretches, Yoga poses, and information about better physical health for fishermen.

You can read the first post in this series HERE.

Recent coverage of this effort in the Bangor Daily News HERE.

Together, we persevere.



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