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Breathing from Head to Heels

Recorded live in a Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement (ATM) class, the lesson below is copyright Nick Strauss-Klein, for personal use only. This and all our audio lessons are 100% donor-supported. Before you begin, read this first for practical tips and your responsibilities, and check out Comfort & Configuration below. Click the other lesson note tabs if you’re curious.

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Various positions, about half back-lying. Experiments with the breath mechanism, learning how it relates to the head, spine, and pelvis, and integrates into the length of the heels for standing. Uses what the Feldenkrais community calls “paradoxical breathing.”

There is a hands-and-knees portion of this lesson. Adaptations to keep you comfortable are discussed. It may be helpful to have an extra towel, mat, or blanket nearby to fold up for additional softness under your knees. You may at any time stand on your fists if your wrists struggle with the position. Rest in another position as frequently as you like. If hands-and-knees is not possible for you, rest on your back with your knees bent and imagine the movements as they are described.

Click Clarifications for an important note.

The type of breathing explored in this lesson is not a prescription for how you should breathe. Nor is it “the Feldenkrais way” to breathe. It is only a tool to mobilize your breath apparatus and cultivate your awareness, so that your breathing can more fluently adapt to all of life’s demands.

We typically habitually use only a fraction of the options we have for breathing. One of the goals of studying the breath with the Feldenkrais Method is to free ourselves from habits and cultivate a more flexible, adaptive breath. Ideally our breathing is changing moment to moment always, in response to many factors: oxygen needs, position, movement, speech, our emotional landscape, etc.

This lesson is found in the collection called Lessons for Standing, Walking, and Running.

Like most of our lessons, this one can be studied out of context, but you may find additional learning value by approaching it in the order of the collection it’s in. It can be particularly useful to go on to The Anti-Gravity Lesson soon after studying this one.


Members and Patrons only. Please login or join the Project to download this lesson’s MP3 file.


Members and Patrons only. Please login or join the Project to view Nick’s comments about sources he used while developing this lesson.


Members and Patrons only. Please login or join the Project to view related lesson titles and links.

Comfort & Configuration

There is a hands-and-knees portion of this lesson. Adaptations to keep you comfortable are discussed. It may be helpful to have an extra towel, mat, or blanket nearby to fold up for additional softness under your knees. You may at any time stand on your fists if your wrists struggle with the position. Rest in another position as frequently as you like. If hands-and-knees is not possible for you, rest on your back with your knees bent and imagine the movements as they are described.

Click Clarifications for an important note.

Clarifications

The type of breathing explored in this lesson is not a prescription for how you should breathe. Nor is it “the Feldenkrais way” to breathe. It is only a tool to mobilize your breath apparatus and cultivate your awareness, so that your breathing can more fluently adapt to all of life’s demands.

Curiosities

We typically habitually use only a fraction of the options we have for breathing. One of the goals of studying the breath with the Feldenkrais Method is to free ourselves from habits and cultivate a more flexible, adaptive breath. Ideally our breathing is changing moment to moment always, in response to many factors: oxygen needs, position, movement, speech, our emotional landscape, etc.

Context

This lesson is found in the collection called Lessons for Standing, Walking, and Running.

Like most of our lessons, this one can be studied out of context, but you may find additional learning value by approaching it in the order of the collection it’s in. It can be particularly useful to go on to The Anti-Gravity Lesson soon after studying this one.

Download

Members and Patrons only. Please login or join the Project to download this lesson’s MP3 file.

Source

Members and Patrons only. Please login or join the Project to view Nick’s comments about sources he used while developing this lesson.

Related Lessons

Members and Patrons only. Please login or join the Project to view related lesson titles and links.

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7 Comments. Leave new

  • Hi!
    My name is Joelle. I just discovered this website and a new opportunity to access atms! Fantastic!
    I tried to subscribe though and the access was denied….
    Would you know why????
    I just enjoyed one of the ATMs. Excellent work!
    Learning every day!

    Reply
    • Nick Strauss-Klein
      Nick Strauss-Klein
      August 1, 2017 3:04 pm

      Hello! Glad you’re enjoying the lessons. Thanks for your comment. I did find an error in the newsletter subscription process. I believe it is fixed now! Please try again and let me know if it doesn’t work.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Chris Sigurdson
    November 25, 2017 12:04 pm

    That was great. Neck activated in bad way early but gone by pushing and pulling phase as predicted.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Nancy Judson
    April 9, 2019 1:10 pm

    Wonderfully taught lesson! After 10 years of Feldenkrais I can still discover new things about my breathing. Thank you!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Kari Fjallstrom
    July 21, 2020 2:02 pm

    Relaxing and clarifying. Thank you!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Steve Chambers
    July 23, 2020 4:40 am

    Fascinating lesson. I have been using Feldenkrais to help remove some fairly extreme pelvis (and now I understand whole body) compensations that had really messed me up after an L5/S1 disc extrusion.

    The on the belly breath seesaw causes me sciatic pain in the buttock on the side of the old injury but at the same time I sense it is getting to the root of my walking issues that are to do with the whole relaxed twist needed to walk properly. I have reduced the effort to avoid the pain and will return to this one often.

    Thankyou.

    Reply
    • Nick Strauss-Klein
      Nick Strauss-Klein
      July 26, 2020 12:36 pm

      I’m so pleased this lesson has your interest, and I’m glad to hear the magic words (“I have reduced the effort to avoid the pain”). Have you tried folding a towel into four or six layers and putting it under your iliac crests / very low abdomen when you’re on your belly? May be a worthwhile exploration to see if you can make yourself more comfortable just by configuring yourself with some support.

      Reply

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