Differentiation of Parts and Functions in Breathing (Patrons)

Various positions, about half back-lying. Experiments designed to help you differentiate the various mechanisms of breathing, and to learn a fuller, more adaptable use of the diaphragm and ALL the ribs and surfaces of the torso. Uses what the Feldenkrais community calls “paradoxical breathing.”

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Recorded live in a Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement (ATM) class, this lesson is copyright Nick Strauss-Klein, for personal use only.

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All the movements of this lesson are intended to be gentle, comfortable, and ever lighter, smoother, and easier, even when cues refer to pushing volume around inside your torso, “bearing down,” or moving swiftly. It was taught in an experienced Feldenkrais class where I assumed the students would self-limit.

If you’re new to this genre of paradoxical (“seesaw”) breathing study try Freeing Your Breath and Spine (16 or 37 min) first.

Near the end you’re invited to decide if “that’s your lesson!”, by which I mean that if you feel you don’t want to do the final more difficult variations, don’t do them! Be done with the lesson, rest or imagine, and enjoy the changes you already feel.

It’s always great to come back to a lesson again another time instead of pushing through difficulty. Why give up all the sense of ease and improvement you’ve already achieved?

It’s important to note that 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.

This lesson is one of 12 in Moshe Feldenkrais’s 1972 book Awareness Through Movement. The Feldenkrais Project has a collection of lessons from this source.

It also appears in our Breathing with Vitality Deep Dive course.

It was taught in the context of a Feldenkrais Fundamentals class which was designed to be a practical study of Moshe’s Awareness Through Movement book. Study tips for the book are here, along with info about where to get it.

The brief reference to “the last two weeks of lessons” refers to live classes that were recorded and are available in our collections: Some Fundamental Properties of Movement (Patrons) and, in our Patrons-only Legacy and Alternate Lessons collection, the lesson called Folding, Foundation, and Length.

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While taught in my own words, this lesson comes directly from Moshe Feldenkrais’s 1972 book Awareness Through Movement.

Got a question for Nick, or a thought about this lesson?

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6 Comments

  1. vicky marangopoulou on October 18, 2020 at 4:55 pm

    Sometimes there is a word I can not understand ie , in this lesson at 21′ 13 I do not understand an important word sisa which is often mentioned ? What am I doing in this case Thanks a lot

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on October 19, 2020 at 9:56 am

      I think that word is “seesaw”, a children’s playground toy that is a board balanced in the middle: when one end goes up, the other end goes down. This is like the two “ends” of your torso in this lesson: your belly raises higher from the ground and your chest flattens, and then your chest raises higher from the ground, and your belly flattens.

    • ALEXANDROS IOANNOU on March 4, 2021 at 6:59 pm

      see-saw

  2. maria mitu on July 18, 2021 at 10:43 am

    Helped with hick ups too 🙂

  3. Susan on February 17, 2022 at 9:05 pm

    Oh, paradoxical breathing is so challenging for me! My first lesson 6 months ago made me run from any other lessons until this week. I’ve got the basics now that I’ve done a handful of lessons, but can’t release extraneous muscles while doing it. My diagonal breathing is pretty lame. The side-lying paradoxical breathing was just too much for me and that was the end of this lesson today.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on February 21, 2022 at 9:36 am

      Don’t be afraid – this is probably the “hardest” incorporation of the seesaw breath awareness technique in any of the lessons on our website. No need to push forward with breathing lessons, and you’ve been wise to do others instead! When the time is right have you tried Breath, Belly, Back, and Hips: Connecting to the Earth? I’m also thinking of the lessons in the red and blue boxes in our Breathing with Vitality course. They explore breathing in other ways (not seesaw).

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