Awareness of Breath

In the following Awareness Through Movement® lesson, we will explore breathing.

Sit comfortably, loosen any tight fitting clothing. In Feldenkrais® we are developing a capacity for awareness and attention, not exercising muscles. Approach each lesson in a spirit of inquiry and exploration, maintaining a relaxed state of mind. Rest when you need to.

Throughout the lesson, I will be asking various questions. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. Let the questions bring your awareness into the movement.

We breathe. At every moment of every day or night, we are at some point in our cycle of breath. Our breath is expressive of our inner state. Feelings, attitudes, relationships. Awareness of breath enables us to access our genuine state of breathing.

Begin to sense your breathing, without changing it. Where can you sense your breath? Does your belly move more than your chest? Does your chest breathe more than your belly? Can you sense breath into the back of yourself? Can you sense your breath in your sides? Are you more comfortable on the inhale or the exhale?

There is no right way to breathe. It is good to have our breathing be flexible and responsive to accommodate various circumstances in our life. Most of us have restricted our repertoire of breathing. Watch a baby breathe, and you can see the whole body is involved, how adaptive a baby’s breath is to stimuli, and goes quickly back to full unimpeded breathing.

Go back to sensing your breathing. How long is the inhale? How long is the exhale? Do they seem the same length? Is there a pause between the exhale and the inhale? Is there a pause between the inhale and the exhale? Are there actually four cycles to your breathing? An exhale, a pause, and an inhale and a pause.

Often we eliminate the pauses. The pause is a significant part of our breathing. It is difficult as you sense it to not begin to control it. Where do you breathe the easiest? May be the chest, may be the belly, may feel free in the throat or the nostrils. As you are breathing now, when you begin the next inhale, what begins to inhale first? How would you describe the progression of the inhale? Then when you exhale, how is the progression of movement as you exhale?

Now we will intentionally influence the breathing. After you inhale next, exhale the breath completely, exaggerating the exhale. Pause waiting for the urge for the next breath – not as long as you possibly can, but waiting for the feeling that your cells need air. At the beginning of that feeling, let the air come in. Repeat this three times. After the third breath, let your breathing return to its natural rhythm.

As you return to that natural rhythm, notice how much of you is breathing right now.

Now, the next time you exhale, make it into a staccato breath, like hahahahaha. Feel your whole torso move as you exhale in short bursts. then inhale in one smooth breath, then exhale in the same way. Do this several times. Then pause, and sense any changes in your breathing.

Do the same with the in breath, inhale in several short bursts, then exhale in one long breath out. Do this several times.

Pause and sense your breathing. How long is your inhale? How long is your exhale? How much more of yourself is alive to breath? What is your sense of the four cycles of breathing?

Imagine a situation that is demanding. Perhaps at work, or at home, or elsewhere. Choose a specific moment. Where are you in space? What is your physical position? Are you sitting, standing, lying? What objects are around you? Are there colors? Shapes? Are there sounds? Are there other people near you? Feel the sensations throughout your body. How is your breathing expressing itself?   Leave the image, come back to present environment, and sense your breathing. Has your breathing been effected by this imagining?

Use any of the breathing perterbations that we enacted in this lesson. Exaggerate the exhale and wait or create staccato breathing. Do one of those two or three times, then allow your breathing to return to its natural rhythm.

Reenter the image of the demanding situation, and sense your breath as you look around this world. If your breathing gets restricted, don’t fight it, use your awareness to allow your system to return to its natural rhythm. In the light of awareness, your breath will return to its natural rhythm.

Revisit this lesson anytime. You may sense a resonance of the movements over a period of time. Thank you for participating.

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Very interesting, Allison! Seems to be very much like yoga….

    1. The lessons are designed to introduce new options of movement for your nervous system (previously known to you as a baby, but perhaps forgotten). The emphasis is not on exercise, strengthening or flexible muscles. What we endeavor to do is provide the opportunity to increase students’ awareness of themselves by expanding their movement repertoire by becoming more and more aware of their habits. It is somatic re-education, as opposed to learning postures, stretches or exercises.

      “What I am after is more flexible minds, not just more flexible bodies”. -Moshe Feldenkrais

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