FELENKRAIS® & BREATHING
contributions to restoring
ease and function for those with
pervasive breathing pattern disorders
& breathing as support for Taiji practice!
Jeff Haller Breathing Lessons on FeldyNotebook
Hannon JC. The physics of Feldenkrais®. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (2000) Jan; 4(1): 27-30.
NOTE: THIS ARTICLE IS NOT ON THE FGNA REFERENCE SITE
The topic of posture, and how the individual uses their body is central to most bodywork and movement therapies and approaches. This new series of peer reviewed papers will explore the issues around this core topic from a particular perspective. The reader is invited to participate by communicating with the author, or the editor, with comments, ideas and constructive criticism. Alternative viewpoints will be published in future issue of the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies.
Hannon JC. The physics of Feldenkrais® Part 2: no strain, no gain. [Journal Article: Theory, Pictorial, Review, Tables/Charts] Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 2000 Apr; 4(2): 114-22. (10 ref). Peer Reviewed.
In the last issue, which was the first of this series, the Principle of Least Effort was introduced. (Use the least effort necessary to achieve the maximum in efficiency). Two sitting self- awareness explorations were presented to help deepen this understanding and to encourage a visceral comprehension of another principle: Control follows awareness . This issue features additional clinical examples and an explanation of several terms of art in bodywork: stress, strain, translation and rotation. These words help to stake out the territory of bodywork. There are only five forms of strain and only two basic movement s in any form of bodywork. We shall see the practical advantages of understanding the concepts these words carry. Clinical results may be enhanced with improved physical safety to both the therapist and client. Secondly, a sure grasp of the technical meanings of these words is essential for delving further into the treatment applications of the Principle of Least Effort.
Hannon JC. The physics of Feldenkrais® part 3: stability. [Journal Article: Theory, Pictorial, Tables/Charts] Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 2000 Oct; 4(4): 261-72. (15 ref). Peer Reviewed.
In the last article in this series, we briefly examined the Principle of Least Effort and the five forms of strain. Strain, you may recall, in physics, describes a change in the volume of a material when a force is applied. Our treatments are a blend of rotation and translation movement s of our hands with a changing mix of strains being applied onto the client’s tissues. Harnessing and interweaving the various forms of strain with dexterity may aid us in improving our treatment efficacy. In this tissue, we will consider the importance of anchorage and stability in treatment, We will consider a set of ‘House Rules’ for improving treatment. In addition, we will explore Bernstein’s concept of degrees of freedom.
Hannon JC. The physics of Feldenkrais® part 4: axes, levers, struts and strain. [Journal Article: Theory, Pictorial, Tables/Charts] Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 2001 Apr; 5(2): 132-45. (22 ref). Peer Reviewed.
This installment, the fourth in a series, presents information useful in harnessing the principles of physics to bodywork and movement therapy. It also provides encouragement towards developing skeletal awareness . This ‘felt-sense’ may help bind a better resolution of the spatial relationships of the human locomotor frame. In turn, this conception may assist in applying the Principle of Least Effort to good effect. Gravity, an unseen force of constant direction and intensity, may be another ally in our use of the Principle of Least Effort. An abstraction, the centre of gravity, may be useful in refining our sense of self as we orient and move through space. Leverage is the last concept presented; the fulcrum and common forms of leverage in the body are presented along with the idea of axes of rotation and instantaneous axes of rotation.
Hannon JC. The physics of Feldenkrais® part 5: unstable equilibrium and its application to movement therapy. [Journal Article: Theory, Pictorial, Tables/Charts] Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 2001 Jul; 5(3): 207-21. (38 ref). Peer Reviewed.
This article, fifth in a series, explores the concept of unstable equilibrium as a form of dynamic repose. This presumes that movement best complies with the Principle of Least Effort when the initial posture incorporates maximal potential energy with minimal inertia. Such action, properly controlled, incorporates strength, dexterity and a quickened reaction time. Also introduced is the idea of reversibility; an attribute, described by Feldenkrais , indicating excellence in motor control. Different forms of gait provide a vehicle for discussion. Exercises and a sitting treatment featuring unstable equilibrium are presented.
Exercise example using unstable equilibrium, page 11, The physics of Feldenkrais 2001-07 5 J. C. Hannon , original source JOURNAL OF BODYWORK AND MOVEMENT THERAPIES JULY 2001
Fig. 6 Feldenkrais on walking. (A) Notice that walking is controlled falling. Potential energy creates the movement forward requiring only a lift up to ready for the next step. Therefore the centre of gravity should drop just the sufficient amount for each step. (B) The gait path should be narrow; less than two foot-widths, with a line connecting the middle of the heels with the toe web closest to the great toe.
first installment of this series
(Vol. 1 No. 1, pages 27–30) (Fig. 7). The knee is cradled with the fingers interlaced around the upper shin. The other leg is arranged for comfortable stability. The ischial tuberosities are similarly arranged for comfort and stability.
It may be useful to revisit this movement physically and gauge what amount of muscular tension abides. Prime areas to consider are the suboccipital muscles, the diaphragm, the pectoral girdle of the chest, hip flexors, hamstrings and quadriceps.
A person using the Least Effort Principle will be able to compose their skeleton for support without muscular effort. The support leg would be placed so that the sub-
A sitting exercise involving rocking on the ischia was introduced in the talar joint, ankle, knee and hip centrate mechanically rather than muscularly. This joint centration provides an unstable equilibrium similar to a stack of slippery ice-cubes. The cubes are motionless but in precarious position.
In the exercise example, the support leg is arranged such that a line could be drawn bisecting the heel, knee and the acetabulum extending out to bisect the great toe web. The other lower limb would demonstrate no muscular activity. Since the knee is cradled, the hip flexion and knee extensor function are superfluous.
This can be tested by rocking the trunk back and forth; if there is wobble of the support knee, that limb is probably not centrated or excessive muscle effort is being expended. A subtle sign, indicating sufficient relaxation of the cradled leg, is a small rocking of the hanging foot as if it was a pendulum. As the trunk falls forward, during the rocking movement, the foot should swing away and return as the trunk rocks backwards.
Jostling of the support leg thigh flesh and calf muscles, by an assistant, should reveal slackness reminiscent of gentle shaking of the limb muscles of a cat luxuriating in repose. It often takes months to release the excess motor tone in the back and neck, jaws, throat, eyes and jaws.
The second part of the exercise is to become aware of any apprehensiveness during the rocking movement. If a good ‘seat’ has been fashioned, for both the ischia and the support foot, it is generally possible to rock forward until the clasped leg fully touches its foot down. It is also possible to rock backwards quite a bit.
Most people, even with intellectual understanding of the rotational mechanics of this rocking movement; and professing a complete sense of personal safety,
curtail their rocking range. This self- dampening of the excursion is often carried out with a great deal of superfluous effort. At the same time, rarely is there any self-awareness of either the limitation or of the excess effort.
Due to the many joints, each with an extremely low coefficient of friction, this extravagance of effort leads to compensatory effort at many points in the skeleton to maintain postural stability. These patterns become habitual. Once habitual, the patterns become part of the ambient input to the sensorium. Thus, the sensations that accompany the muscular effort are extremely difficult to discern.
Untangling the web of intertwined sensations and noting an excess of ambient motor tone is just one challenge. Often restricting the range is a scarcely noted apprehensiveness. Assuming that this unease is a felt-sense of postural instability, it becomes important to update this felt-sense to reflect reality. With a solid perch, this movement is extraordinarily safe.
It may be speculated that often it is only with recognition of safety that deep co-contraction of the lower back and neck intrinsic muscles may be annulled. Once these deep muscles release the rocking becomes that much easier. The effort of the psoas and lumbar multifidi, for example, may be likened to an evenly matched tug-of-war. Both sides may be pulling on their side without any net movement of the intervening rope.
Maximal effort in such a tug-of-war becomes incapacitating spasm; more commonly, low grade effort merely provides internal resistance and subdues any sense of muscular ease. In contrast, performance of the ischial rock, once relaxation obtains at the level of the deep spinal intrinsics, may be a delicate affair produced entirely by the mere tilting of the head.
JOURNAL OF BODYWORK AND MOVEMENT THERAPIES JULY 2001
The Physics of Feldenkrais1
Fig. 7 The ischial rock: an exploration of ease, unstable equilibrium and skeletal poise. Two symbols are borrowed from electronics for this illustration. The sign for ‘ground’ will designate a solid anchoring of the skeleton at that location. The sign for ‘resistance’ will denote motor tone sufficient to restrict the desired joint movement. (A) The exercise is seen in the starting position and in (B) the range of forward and backward excursion is seen for the trunk. (C) This view shows the alignment of joint centration from the hip to the toe on the support leg. (D) Here is seen the small but important pendulum motion of the clasped, yet dangling, leg. Notice that the rounded ischial tuberosity is ideal for rocking. With suitable relaxation of the spinal extensors and anterior spinal muscles, (iliopsoas, scalenes, deep neck flexors), the entire rocking unstable equilibrium is
ADDITIONAL BREATHING LESSONS & DISCUSSION
Discussion / Alexander Yanai lesson (from Feldyforum post by Peggi Honig on 9/13/2014, and others)
|AY #5. Equalizing the nostrils.|
|AY #17 Breathing.|
|AY #21. Contracting the abdomen while exhaling.|
|AY #23 Palate, mouth and teeth/|
|AY #28. Legs crossed and expanding chest and abdomen.|
|AY #35. Stomach and chest first.|
|AY #126 The mouth and head cavity.|
|AY #172. Stopping the breath|
|AY #179 Breathing (To weld the breathing).|
|AY #180 Breathing rhythmically (#1).|
|AY #185. Lying on the feet, #3 and breathing rhythmically #2 (Breathing in 4 parts).|
|AY #186 Breathing rhythmically (#3 on Left side).|
|AY #187 Breathing rhythmically (#4 on both sides).|
|AY #188. Twisting the spine and Breathing rhythmically #5.|
|AY #189 Directed breathing (intentional breathing/breathing rhythmically #6).|
|AY #191. Pressing to the floor and breathing (Breathing rhythmically #7).|
|AY #201 Gluing the lungs, pt1.|
|AY #202 Gluing the lungs, pt 2.|
|AY #203 Gluing the lungs, pt 3|
|AY #204 Gluing the lungs, pt 4 (Gluing and bending the back).|
|AY #241. Getting to know your hip joints.|
|AY #280. On hands and shoulders.|
|AY #299 Distinction of the m/m underneath the belly button in the breathing during oscillations.|
|AY #351. Swinging the legs on the side. (In the lesson Moshe requests continual observation of the Tanden – which he calls “the foundation of faith in every faith” – and to an absolute ease in movement so that the breath is not disturbed. There is a point in the lesson where he asks to pay attention to the quality of his voice and to discern when he has moved away from the thought of the tanden and when he has not.)|
|AY #359 Tanden with bending the knees. (This is not technically a breathing lesson, when we attend to the space in our mouth and head, throat, this effects our ability to breath with greater ease because we notice where we are constricted and can let it soften so that pathway for breathe is freer.)|
|AY #435. Alternately stomach up and down in the breathing.|
From Open ATM – http://openatm.org/
Sharon Starika : The 2003 ATM Season: (27 Lessons)
Breathing rhythmically 1
Falk Feddersen Ph.D. (23 Lessons):
(variations on) Breathing Rhythmically #7 (inspired by Julie Peck)
Paradoxical Breathing in Many Positions (variations on Stomach and Chest First)
Liz Sisco (22 Lessons):
To Weld the Breath
Apr 8, 2016
Pressing and Breathing Rhythmically
Description of ATM Book: from FeldyNotebook!
This is one of the few books Moshe Feldenkrais wrote in Hebrew. It was published in February 1967. The name in Hebrew is Improving ability, theory and practice. It was published in English 1972 (First published in the U.S. A by Harper &’ Row 1972, First published in Great Britain by Penguin Books 1980) under the name Awareness Through Movement: Health Exercises for Personal Growth. For more information about the book:
Laura has added links to the following at ATM Book page
Clarification About the ATM Book Translations by Eva Laser
Notes on ATM Book by Adam Cole
Part I:Understanding While Doing
Strata of Development
Where to Begin and How
Structure and Function
The direction of Progress
Part II: Doing to Understand:Twelve Practical Lessons
- General Observations
- Some Practical Hints
- What is Good Posture?
- What Action is Good?
- Some Fundamental Properties of Movement
- Differentiation of Parts and Functions in Breathing
- Coordination of the Flexor Muscles and of the Extensors
- Differentiation of Pelvic Movements by Means of an Imaginary Clock
- The Carriage of the Head Affects the State of the Musculature
- Perfecting the Self-Image
- Spatial Relationships as a Means to Coordinated Action
- The Movement of the Eyes Organizes the Movement of the Body
- Becoming Aware of Parts of Which We Are Not Conscious with the Help of Those of Which We are Conscious
- Thinking and Breathing
Laura has added links to the following at ATM Book page
Buy the book at Amazon
Buy Awareness through Movement: Basic Series Audio
“Ways to Better Breathing” by Carola Speads.
“The New Science of Breath” by Stephen B. Elliott.
“Conscious Breathing: Breathwork for Health, Stress Release, and Personal Mastery” by Gay Hendricks
Breathing article by Steve Hamlin
A search on January 27, 2017 has 103 references containing “breathing”
These references come from several sources compiled with notes from Laura.
Thank you, Laura!
Laura: for $1.75 members* can buy a copy of a lesson.
from the Moshe’s Alexander Yanai series:
(for example AY 51 here:
You need to login to IFF to follow the link to
IFF: International Feldenkrais® Federation
May 29, 2017 Ralph Strauch on Feldyforum (highlighting from Katarina Halm):
Inhaling while flexing the ribs and spine can make a lot of sense, in some circumstances. It’s a good pattern to have in your repertoire of movements. Here’s my rationale for that.
The human respiratory apparatus is highly flexible, allowing you to breathe in many different ways. You inhale by expanding the volume of your thoracic cavity, and there are many ways of doing that. You can increase the height of the cavity by contracting your diaphragm and “breathing into your belly.” You aren’t actually taking air into your belly, of course; the sensation that you are comes from the pressure of your contracting diaphragm against your abdominal organs.You can increase the breadth of your cavity in different ways, depending on how you use your ribcage. This is good, because different ways of breathing are efficient in different circumstances, so it’s useful to adjust your breathing to the activity you’re performing.
Inhaling during extension usually involves lifting and expanding your upper ribs, expanding both the length and breadth of your thoracic cavity. This is a familiar pattern for most people. Inhaling during flexion calls on a different pattern — breathing into the low back by expanding the width of the lower ribs. If you not familiar with that pattern, ask someone to help you by placing their hand on both sides of your low back while you sit on a table or stool. Then explore using your inhalation to push their hands apart, allowing the hands to return as you exhale.
Inhalation is the active phase of the breathing cycle, in the sense that inhalation requires active muscular contraction, however you do it. Exhalation is more passive, and occurs as that contraction is relaxed. This means that other action done during exhalation is generally more efficient than the same action during inhalation.
Consider pulling and pushing. Pulling something toward yourself generally involves skeletal flexion, so is better supported by extension/inhalation breathing, while pushing something away from you involves skeletal extension, so is better supported by flexion/inhalation breathing.
This is also applicable to communicating verbally with an audience — speaking or singing. You exhale as you speak or sing, and inhale between utterances. If you’re using extension/inhalation breathing, then you’re gradually flexing as you speak, contracting the space you occupy and withdrawing from your audience. Using flexion/inhalation breathing, on the other hand, you are extending as you speak, more effectively claiming and filling the space encompassing yourself and your audience. Play with this and see if you can feel that difference. Let me know if it makes sense to you.
Ralph Strauch, Ph.D., Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner
“Composing Experience” blog <http://www.somatic.com/blog/>
Author of “Low-Stress Computing, Using awareness to avoid RSI”
and “The Reality Illusion: How you make the world you experience,”
A tradition from Feldenkrais Week May 4 – 13, 2012
Notes for Feldenkrais® practitioners from Rosa Murnaghan:
“Feldenkrais Week takes place from May 4 – 13, 2012. We have been challenged by the UK Guild to participate in a ‘rolling’ ATM on Saturday, May 12, at 11:00am. That means that whatever the time zone, we teach the same ATM at 11am local time. The ATM that has been chosen is from Moshe’s Awareness Through Movement® Book, Lesson 5, Coordination of the Flexor Muscles and of the Extensors.
It is a wonderful opportunity to share your enthusiasm for the Method and garner new students by offering free classes, discounted FI lessons and any other event you would like to organize. In the past, I have invited class members to bring guests to any classes that I teach in the period of Feldenkrais Week. Treats at the end of class go over well too! Two weekends are included to provide maximum flexibility for organizing events. Why not browse some of the files that have been uploaded to the Files section of the Feldenkrais Week Yahoo Group. Some of the material was prepared for Moshé’s 100th birthday in 2004 while other files are more recent. If you decide to use them please do a light edit to ensure they are up-to-date.”
Information about the book Recognizing and Treating Breathing Disorders: A Multidisciplinary Approach
Authors: Leon Chaitow, Christopher Gilbert, Dinah Bradley
Title: Recognizing and Treating Breathing Disorders: A Multidisciplinary Approach
Authors: Leon Chaitow ND DO (UK), Christopher Gilbert PhD, Dinah Bradley DipPhys NZRP MNZSP
Imprint: Churchill Livingstone
Published Date: January 16, 2002
Paperback ISBN: 9780443070532
Title: Recognizing and Treating Breathing Disorders: A Multidisciplinary Approach, 2e
Authors: Leon Chaitow ND DO (UK), Christopher Gilbert PhD, Dinah Bradley DipPhys NZRP MNZSP
Imprint: Churchill Livingstone
Published Date: December 9, 2013
This authoritative, research-based book, written by a team of clinical experts, offers an introduction to the symptoms and causes of disordered breathing as well as the strategies and protocols that can be used to correct and restore normal breathing. Multidisciplinary Approaches to Breathing Pattern Disorders guides readers through a discussion of the current research that links disordered breathing patterns with perceived pain levels, fatigue, stress and anxiety. Basic mechanics, physiology, and biochemistry of normal breathing are outlined to lay a foundation for understanding causes and mechanics of disordered breathing. Self-help strategies with charts and workbook pages that may be photocopied as handouts are designed to help patients overcome specific breathing problems.
By Christopher Gilbert
When asked to pause at the end of an exhale, for example, many people simply cannot. They will partially comply, but will draw a light amount of air in, either knowingly or unknowingly. When asked to exhale slowly, there may be little reversals, “sneak breath” on the way out. And if asked not to sigh so much (a very common problem in hyperventilation), often the reverse happens instead: more sighing, as if thinking of the possibility stimulates more of it.
Paragraph 5 top of column 2
Interjecting a pause is a wedge, or “foot in the door” of conscious control of breathing. It is useful to practice pausing with the throat both open and closed, to feel the difference. Once that is mastered, the next step would be a pause at the end of the exhale. This is a different act than a post-inhale pause and is usually harder and less familiar. Pausing without closing the throat is preferable, though there is no barrier to “sneak breaths” this way. The object is to allow a complete exhale to “happen”, simply by releasing all breathing muscles and letting the movement subside, then resting just a moment before the next inhale.
In learning to pause the breath, it may seem just as logical to pause after the inhale as after the exhale. If the goal is simply to stop the loss of CO2 in an urgent situation, then any method for accomplishing that is better than nothing. But there are a few reasons why a post-exhale part is better:
1. Pausing after the inhale, holding the lungs filled, creates tension and strain in the muscles of inhalation.
2. Pausing after the inhale creates temporary hyper inflation, which works against relaxation and proper emptying of the lungs
3. Pausing after the exhale is more natural. The breathing system reduces volume by slowing the frequency, reducing the depth, and lengthening the posts-exhalation pause. A post-inhale part does not seem to occur naturally except when accompanying a state of suspense.
Click HERE to download a PDF of chapter one
Contents of Chapter One
Historical background to the extreme of BPD/hyperventilation 1
Varieties of BPD and its symptoms 2
How common is HVS, and who is most affected? 3
BPD is not a disease 4
‘The Great Mimic’ 4
Lum’s perspective 4
How well is the individual adapting? 6
Has adaptation reached the point of exhaustion? 7
Biological rhythms as a guide 7
Evidence of functional change with treatment 7
Patient categorization 8
Homeostasis and heterostasis 8
Therapy as a stress factor 8
Where next? 9
Chapter 1 can also be downloaded as a pdf (see previous tab)
SAMPLE from Kindle book
Click on the above link
Then look to the left of the “Kindle” title
and click on the blue and red link: “Look Inside”
The sample from Kindle includes Chapter 1 and
an interesting discussion from Chapter 1
Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization developmental kinesiology:
breathing stereotypes and postural
Diaphragm function from a developmental perspective
Definition of an ideal respiratory pattern from a developmental perspective
The Alexander Yanai lessons
Numerical List of all Alexander Yanai Lessons
The Alexander Yanai lessons are copyrighted by the International Feldenkrais
Federation. You can purchase a copy by going here:
Perhaps someday you can pay at that website and be able to download the
lesson, but given the current resources and need to use them to produce more
materials, that’s not currently possible.
It would be wonderful if these materials were available to all at no cost
but the translation, editing, production and royalties do cost money and
copying them undercuts the communities ability to produce them. Given how
much we value the product of Moshe’s genius and how important to the
personal development of most practitioners these lessons are, I don’t think
its too much to ask people to pay the rather inexpensive costs of the
material. The truth is that if copyrights are not respected, we won’t be
able to release any more material.
IFF Distribution Center
posted on feldyforum April 20, 2005
Additional Notes from Richard Ehrman on Alexander Yanai Errata posted on feldyforum April 22, 2007
The IFF DC will check this information and correct subsequent editions. —
suggested submitting this sort of information to the Distribution Centre
office which we would appreciate.
However we’ve also set up a site to
collect such information for the community to access and discuss.
The IFF Academy has set up a discussion area on the IFF website to post such
corrections under a thread called AY Errata. There are other threads for
discussion of educational materials as well. You need to register for the
site to post on the forums (though you can look without registering) and
access all the wonderful resources there. I’ve posted Yoni’s posting (as
well as an earlier correction by him.)
We will explore ‘mistakes’ or things we think need correction in the AY
AY Titles – Suggestions for improvements
In this thread we’ll cite lesson titles that don’t reveal elements of the
lesson that might be useful to know when searching titles. We can also
discuss titling in general and what conventions might promote easier use of
What the !#@$? Does That Mean?
Have you come across an instruction you don’t understand? You’ve tried 5
ways to do it and its still not clear. Bring it here and we’ll discuss and
An Index to make finding AY lessons easier has been requested/suggested. How
would we go about assembling one? What are the ways to index the lessons? We
can discuss here and perhaps move to create one.
Materials Publishing Discussions
Amherst – FIs for publication?
What FI’s from Amherst have you seen in training programs or rentals that
you think are worthy of publishing and being made available in DVD format?
Please be specific about any identifying information (date, names) and why
you think the FI would be good for practitioners’ learning.
ATM Revelations Forum
Have you ever had an experience while doing or related to an Awareness
Through Movement lesson that could only be described as a revelation? It
might be interesting to collect such stories as an oral history of the power
of these lessons. Please share yours here.
I hope the community begins to take advantage of these forums. Having
explicit conversations about the educational materials will enhance our
understanding and enrich our experience using them. Let me know if you have
any questions about using these forums.
IFF Distribution Center