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Freeing Your Breath and Spine (16 or 37 min)

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.

Read this before you begin  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, using what the Feldenkrais community calls “paradoxical breathing.” The back-lying first 16 minutes can be studied alone. Discover more pleasurable, adaptable breathing using 360 degree experiments with the chest and abdomen, and find a more supple, supportive spine along the way!

The back-lying first half of the lesson (through 16:30) can be studied alone for an even shorter breathing awareness refresher.

In the second half 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.

For a brief anatomy lesson about the breathing apparatus followed by the experiential learning of a Feldenkrais lesson check out Thinking and Breathing (Patrons only).

This audio recording is found in Getting Oriented, our introductory collection of Feldenkrais basics for newcomers (and longtimers looking for a “tune-up”).


Cross-references to other related lessons in our free-for-everyone and Patrons-only collections are a “thank you” benefit for Members and Patrons. Please login or join the Project to view related lesson titles, links, and discussion.

Patrons can listen to an expanded version of this lesson with about 15 additional minutes at the end, including discussion about the effects of coughing and the problem with trying to breathe any “right” way, and several additional ATM variations.

Please login or begin or renew Patron-level donation to the Feldenkrais Project to access our Legacy and Alternate Lessons collection.


Nick’s discussion of his lesson sources are a “thank you” benefit for Members and Patrons only. Please login or join the Project to view them.


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

Comfort & Configuration

The back-lying first half of the lesson (through 16:30) can be studied alone for an even shorter breathing awareness refresher.

In the second half 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.

Clarifications

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.

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.

For a brief anatomy lesson about the breathing apparatus followed by the experiential learning of a Feldenkrais lesson check out Thinking and Breathing (Patrons only).

Context

This audio recording is found in Getting Oriented, our introductory collection of Feldenkrais basics for newcomers (and longtimers looking for a “tune-up”).

Related Lessons

Cross-references to other related lessons in our free-for-everyone and Patrons-only collections are a “thank you” benefit for Members and Patrons. Please login or join the Project to view related lesson titles, links, and discussion.

Alternate Version

Patrons can listen to an expanded version of this lesson with about 15 additional minutes at the end, including discussion about the effects of coughing and the problem with trying to breathe any “right” way, and several additional ATM variations.

Please login or begin or renew Patron-level donation to the Feldenkrais Project to access our Legacy and Alternate Lessons collection.

Source

Nick’s discussion of his lesson sources are a “thank you” benefit for Members and Patrons only. Please login or join the Project to view them.

Download

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

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11 Comments. Leave new

  • I like this lesson a lot. Just a question. When doing the movement of rolling on the head when u are on your forearms, when I finished i felt like I was going to get a nosebleed. I didnt get one but just had the sensation. Was I doing something wrong? Thanks

    Reply
    • Nick Strauss-Klein
      July 14, 2020 4:11 pm

      As you explore and follow the “only do what’s comfortable” instructions, that guideline goes for any kind of experience/sensation during the lessons. Assuming you were moving slowly, smoothly, and comfortably you were doing just fine by the movements – but, if you have an unpleasant sensation or even an uncertain one, it’s best to do less, go slower, or take a break. Later, if you come back into the movement or repeat the lesson, stay curious about those sensations.

      Reply
  • Rashmi Ripley
    July 9, 2020 8:49 am

    Really enjoyed this lesson, Nick. As a long time meditator, it’s fascinating to feel grounded and full in a new and different way. Also, loved your question on sensing into which breath is more pleasurable. Thank you for the reminder of pleasure, and for your precise instruction!

    Reply
  • Thanks

    Reply
  • Beverly Brookman
    October 31, 2020 3:16 pm

    Again I want to remark, at first I only did the first 16 minutes 2 or three times because I have been discovering how my breathing is mostly belly with my ribs very retricted in movement. this is am\n incredibly valuable learning for me. I’m learning to “point my breath” to teach my body how to move more “fluidly” ?!

    Reply
  • Beverly Brookman
    November 1, 2020 12:42 pm

    Second time doing the whole lesson,usually only did first ½. There was a definite shift in how much more I breathe with my whole body! I notice my shoulders even moving, not only my belly.thanks I believe my chest rib constrictions will lossen. Thanks, Nick

    Reply
    • Nick Strauss-Klein
      November 1, 2020 5:23 pm

      Thanks for sharing your process with me and other users! Great to hear that you’re discovering new options. I love that you took my up on just doing the first 16 minutes the first few times!

      Reply
  • I did this one and the next, the simple floor clock yesterday morning. Afterwards, I felt really cold (even after putting on sweats) and nauseous. After about an hour, I started to feel normal again. Did I try too hard??!

    Reply
    • Nick Strauss-Klein
      August 2, 2021 11:15 am

      It may be that the two lessons one after another were too much, or as you suggest you overdid something. Hard to say from a distance. Did you feel any straining or unpleasantness during either lesson? This is an unusual response, so please take it extra easy for your next lesson and don’t hesitate to ask more questions.

      Reply
  • Today was my first experience of paradoxical breathing in an extended lesson. While I was introduced to aspects of this during FI sessions several months ago, it was enlightening to move through the process more slowly and with these variations. I plan to repeat this lesson several times and then do the other two you mention. Thank you Nick!

    Reply
  • Another magic lesson! as you say Nick everything is related! I’ve been struggling with on and off stiff neck and shoulders for the past month, so when I lay down to do this lesson, I was only expecting to “relax” and breathe deeper. Well that did happen in a very interesting way in so far as my belly expanded much lower and deeper and my chest was willing to swell> Wonderfull feeling, but the best feeling of all was doing the bit at the end on our hands and knees, and discovering that my neck was free to join in! and is still free to write this email (-;
    Thank you so much Nick for your fantastically clear and slow-paced instructions!

    Reply

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