Thinking and Breathing (Patrons)

Back-lying and seated, improving awareness and use of the whole breathing apparatus by directing attention to specific anatomy while experimenting with "stepped" breathing and different body configurations. Starts with an essential anatomy lesson that cultivates concepts and imagery used throughout the ATM lesson. Illustrations are below the lesson notes.

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.

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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 – 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 1 – Interrupted?

Study tip: Interrupted or don’t have enough time? You can return to the lesson later today or tomorrow. Read how best to continue your learning on our FAQ page.

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 – 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.

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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 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 – 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.

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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You may wish to have a chair available. Other considerations and adaptations are mentioned just after you’re asked to lie down, after the anatomy lesson.

In the cross-legged seated “healthy slump” portions, the weight of your head (and your arms, if you choose to have your hands hanging on the back of your head) is used in part to help you feel the muscles of your back relax and lengthen more as you explore. The expansion of your front is limited by your roundedness, and there’s more room for air in the back of your chest. Over time your head may sink a little lower on the exhales, even as you may also discover it rising slightly with the inhales.

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 Deep Dive courses called Breathing with Vitality and The Pelvic Floor: Less Is More.

It was recorded during our quarterly Patrons call on October 15, 2021. We recommend studying from this edited audio version, but Patrons can also view an unedited Zoom recording that includes some discussion with students before and after the lesson. Find it here.

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While taught in my own words, this lesson comes directly from Moshe Feldenkrais’s 1972 book Awareness Through Movement. Members and Patrons can access more information on other sources I used, and changes I made.

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Here are the screenshares mentioned in the anatomy lesson that begins this recording:

The two lungs are really quite different sizes. The right lung has three lobes and is larger. The left has two lobes, leaving room for the heart. The bronchi branch out to the lobes of the lungs from the base of the windpipe. image source

lung schematic

The diaphragm is vaulted when it’s relaxed, and flattens down when you inhale. 

When you inhale the sternum rises, the chest thickens and broadens, and the diaphragm tightens, pulling down toward its connections with the lumbar spine.

On subsequent listenings you may wish to begin at the ATM lesson, which starts just after the 9-minute mark.

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

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  1. Fern Chester on October 21, 2021 at 2:54 pm

    I have scoliosis to right so I found the lesson a little harder on the right side or to rephrase easier on the left.Did Moshe address scoliosis?

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on November 2, 2021 at 12:45 pm

      Yes. It’s also expected that everyone will find noticeable differences between the sides based on their own history and habits (not just that all humans have asymmetrical lungs). Scoliosis can generally be helped through exploring a broad variety of Feldenkrais ATM lessons, since spinal structure is affected by our muscular habits, which we tend to see change significantly over time with Feldenkrais study. For specific personal recommendations you may wish to find a local practitioner for 1-to-1 work.

  2. Ann Thomson on November 10, 2021 at 3:53 pm

    I thought this was an inspired lesson. I have a copy of the Feldenkrais book but the detailed introduction with the videos made the lesson so much easier to feel aware of what was happening .Many thanks for this one Nick. Ann

  3. jean kirk on November 11, 2022 at 4:51 am

    Are any lessons directing help for trouble sleeping

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on November 11, 2022 at 9:31 am

      I haven’t taught directly to this topic but better sleep, and getting back to sleep more easily, are a frequent effect of Feldenkrais study. To maximize that benefit you might…

      • Try studying ATMs right before bed. If it’s hard to pay attention at the end of the day try the shorter ATMs in our Getting Oriented and Patrons Monthly collections.
      • Try bits of breathing lessons before bed, or when trying to get back to sleep.
      • Practice the ATM techniques in the Rest and Recharge lessons (blue box) in our Breathing with Vitality Deep Dive.
      • You can also Google “Feldenkrais Sounder Sleep System” to find some other practitioners’ more specifically-targeted work.

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