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.”

Before you begin read this for practical tips and your responsibilities, and check out Comfort & Configuration below.

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

Tip – Join!

Join the Project! Members and Patrons see streamlined lesson pages, and can access My Journey (the and above), and the Related Lessons tab below.

Browser/device size and audio player

Tech tip: On mobile or tablet? Once you start playing the audio, your device’s native playback controls should work well.

Tip – skip a lesson

Study tip: If you can’t find a comfortable way to do the initial movements or configuration of a lesson, it’s ok to skip it for now and go on to another lesson.

Tip – Pause the recording

Study tip: If you’re really enjoying a movement and want to explore longer, or you just need a break for a while, pause the recording!

Tip 5 – Discomfort

Study tip: If a configuration or movement causes any increase in discomfort, or you feel you just don’t want to do it, don’t! Make it smaller and slower, adapt it, or rest and imagine.

Tip 4 – Padding

Study tip: Comfort first! Carpeted floors usually work well, but it’s great to have an extra mat or blanket nearby in case you need a softer surface in some configurations.

Tip 2 – Social Sharing

Project tip: Try the social buttons below. Please help us to achieve our vision: spreading the life-changing benefits of Feldenkrais study as widely as possible!

Tip – Rewinding

Study tip: Many instructions are repeated. If you get a little lost, rest and listen. You’ll often find your way. Or use the rewind button on the page or your mobile device.

Tip – Complete the Movement

Study tip: Complete one movement before beginning the next. You’ll improve faster if there’s enough time between movements that you feel fully at rest.

Tip – what to wear

Study tip: Wear loose, comfortable clothes that are warm enough for quiet movement. Remove or avoid anything restrictive like belts or glasses.

Tip – Lesson names

What’s in a lesson title? Lessons are about an hour unless a shorter duration is shown in the title. Thanks to our donors they’re freely offered unless marked “Patrons” – those are how we thank our Patron-level donors.

Tip – LESSS is more

LESSS is more: Light, Easy, Small, Slow, & Smooth movements will ease pains and improve your underlying neuromuscular habits faster than any other kind of movement, no matter who you are or what your training is!

Tip – Comments

Project tip: Leave a lesson comment below! It’s a great way to give feedback or ask a question, and it helps google find us so we can achieve The Feldenkrais Project’s vision!

Tip – Technical Difficulties

Tech tip: If you have any trouble with the audio player, reboot your browser. That solves most issues. If not, please contact Nick.

Tip – What’s New

Community tip: See what Nick and other Felden-fans are interested in right now. Check out What’s New at the bottom of our homepage for recent blog posts and listener comments.

Tip 3 – Head Support

Study tip: It helps to have a large bath towel nearby when you start a lesson. You can fold it differently for comfortable head support in any configuration.

Tip – Directions are Relative

Study tip: Directions are always relative to your body. For example, if you’re lying on your back “up” is toward your head, and “forward” is toward the ceiling.

We offer over 50 free lessons, but this one's just for our Patron-level donors. You can learn about it in the free lesson notes and comments below, but to access the audio you’ll need to join The FP as a Patron. Learn more

If you are a Patron, please log in:

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.

Members and Patrons. Learn more or login:

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?

Use the comments section below! Public comments build our community and help search engines find us.



  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


  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).

Leave a Comment