August 4

Good Breathing

Breathing to improve you health and posture

What is Good Breathing?

Ideally, your breath should be flexible and adaptable to any situation—every experience, whether of emotion, thought, or movement, requires a different organization of your breathing. 

Your breathing when running differs from when relaxing and watching TV, which differs from when grieving, laughing, eating, lifting something heavy, or making love.

Many people are unaware of their breathing and often have faulty breathing habits resulting from poor posture and inefficient movement. These habits lead to fatigue, fuzzy thinking, stiffness, and pain.

Faulty Breathing Habits

How do faulty breathing habits develop? They develop primarily through our daily movement habits and our emotional experience.

Stress and anxiety cause us to stiffen our chests and abdomens, limiting our ability to breathe. 

Sitting for long periods and concentrating also limit our breathing. Email apnea is on the rise. That's right—email apnea is a thing now. When people focus on their emails and messages, they stop breathing.

Many of us will hold our breath when we anticipate doing something challenging, like picking up a heavy object, solving a problem, or meeting someone new.

Is There a "Correct" Way to Breathe?

Another way we get into trouble is by being instructed on the "correct" way to breathe.

Throughout my years of practice, I've encountered many students who were advised by well-meaning teachers to always "belly-breathe." So they made a rule about it and tried to always "belly-breathe." 

We do NOT want to assume a rule that dictates a "correct" way to breathe. As soon as we make a rule like "this is the correct way to breathe" or "I should breathe this way all the time," we create limitations for ourselves. Why is this? Because we choose one way of breathing to the exclusion of any other way, which requires excessive muscular effort. 

Your breath should be easy, natural, flexible, and adaptable. You rob yourself of that spontaneity by making a rule about how to breathe. 

In general, Dr. Feldenkrais was against schools that taught breathing techniques. I am not against learning different ways of breathing. Pranayama has a long tradition of breathing practices that effectively improve our health. 

I practice the Wim Hof method of breathing—a pattern of cyclical hyperventilation with specific breath holds. I love it. I practice it daily but never assume this is the only correct breathing method. 

Learning How to Breathe

In Feldenkrais lessons, we create the conditions for you to feel and discern all the parts of yourself that participate in breathing. Your skeletal structure, muscles, diaphragm, and even heart rate all need to change from one situation to the next. You learn to help make your breathing flexible and adaptable to any situation. 

Our breathing lessons explore many ways of breathing in different positions and coordination with other movements. We rely on your nervous system's natural mechanisms to retrain your brain through these explorations, making these new ways of organizing your breathing second nature. 


References


Feldenkrais, M. (1994, May). Alexander Yanai Lesson 17 Breathing [Lecture]. International Feldenkrais Federation, Paris, France, in Cooperation With The Feldenkrais Institute, Tel Aviv, Israel.


Feldenkrais, M. (1994, May). Alexander Yanai Lesson 21 Contracting the Abdomen While Exhaling [Lecture]. International Feldenkrais Federation, Paris, France, in Cooperation With The Feldenkrais Institute, Tel Aviv, Israel.


Feldenkrais, M. (1994, May). Alexander Yanai Lesson 35 Stomach and Chest First [Lecture]. International Feldenkrais Federation, Paris, France, in Cooperation With The Feldenkrais Institute, Tel Aviv, Israel.


Feldenkrais Breathing Lessons

Check out my class, Breathe for Life.

Learn to breathe in an easy way that improves your overall health and well-being. We will explore Feldenkrais lessons that free us from the limitations of our habitual breathing patterns. 

Click here to learn more.


Tags

breathing, posture


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