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Freeing Your Breath and Spine: the full-length edit (Patrons)

Various positions, first half back-lying. Experiments with the verticality and 360 possibilities of the breath mechanism, leading it toward greater freedom and adaptability. Along the way, imaging and prompting a more supple, supportive spine. Uses what the Feldenkrais community calls “paradoxical breathing.”
• 0:00 Lesson: Freeing Your Breath and Spine
• 37:00 Discussion: effects of coughing, and the problem with breathing any "right" way
• 39:00 Additional ATM explorations


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.

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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 – 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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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.

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

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In later parts of the lesson there are belly-lying and hands-and-knees configurations. Adaptations to keep you comfortable are discussed. For hands and knees, 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.

Back-lying, as you begin to “float your head into the air” with your interlaced fingers behind your head, the position is much like a sit-up, but the effort and range are far, far less.

Belly-lying, as you “wag your tail,” your bottom, belly, thighs, and heels are all invited to roll (I say “toss”) from side to side.

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 audio recording is found in Patrons Monthly, our growing collection of new lessons (one or more added every month) for Feldenkrais Project Patron-level donors.

It also appears in our Breathing with Vitality Deep Dive.

The first part of this lesson is available to all as Getting Oriented Lesson 7: Freeing Your Breath and Spine. Please share!

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Members and Patrons. Learn more or login:

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1 Comment

  1. Lorraine on November 11, 2020 at 2:07 pm

    This was a great exploration of what is for me a very familiar lesson. It produced change and more understanding even though I kept falling into a sense of familiarity. Thank you for shaking up my complacency with small differences and the invitation to be observant!

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