Don’t hold your breath.
You need to take a deep breath.
I need a breath of fresh air.
I can’t breathe.
What a year it’s been for breathing.
At one point, the town I live in was filled with folks fleeing nearby fires and facing a potential evacuation order. I’ll never forget the day the sky turned orange, and smoke filled the air and danced down the streets and alleys.
Every time I wear a mask, I stop taking respiration for granted because it jumps into my field of attention.
It’s probably not a coincidence that there is no shortage of interest in the topic of breathing these days. Voice coaches and yoga teachers, extreme sports enthusiasts, and until recently obscure breathing techniques all have something to say. I’ve learned a heck of a lot of late; I especially appreciated James Nestor’s meticulously researched, engagingly recounted, and wide-ranging treatise: Breath.
In the past year, I took a deep dive into the physical practice I was introduced to as a teenager, and that’s been my livelihood since my twenties. Never in forty-plus years have I done Feldenkrais® lessons so regularly for so long. Thanks to the internet and online meetings, mine hasn’t been a solo project. I’ve been studying with, learning from, and interacting with other students worldwide, in small groups, classes, and one-on-one.
For a long while there, while going through a long bout of medical treatments, I was too tired to contemplate, let alone do, much of anything. I went from feeling spent to being fatigued to realizing that what I had just felt was only the beginning of exhaustion.
Breath was the perfect topic to explore. Moshe Feldenkrais’ compendium of Awareness Through Movement® lessons contains dozens about respiration and many, many more that address breathing indirectly, in terms of the relation to posture, action, and learning. I had plenty to work with and learn from, that’s for sure. Many classes were old friends — known from years of personal experience and of teaching them. Then there were those lessons that I’d never gotten along with — they’d rubbed me the wrong way, for whatever reason, from the start. And the ATM® scores I had never even heard about, the hidden gems and strange surprises. I took them all on, revisiting them, relating one to another, investigating what’s going on behind the scenes, and, basically, turning into a part-time movement monk.
I took the chance to return to the most basic ATMs from an advanced perspective, meet the more difficult ones without feeling daunted from the start, and approach them afresh. As ever, I remain fascinated by the ingenious design of Moshe’s lessons — dynamic physical expeditions, movement puzzles, and self-altering itineraries — that made for such leaps in how I know myself, how I feel from the inside out.
What I learned, professionally speaking, is the inspiration for what I’m teaching this year: The first trimester of The Bodywise Project is called It’s a matter of life and breath. And the theme of this year’s postgraduate program is BREATHING BETTER.
On a personal level — though I’ve been benefiting from the method, and seeing others do so as well, for decades — I am, once again, delighted with how well and how easily it works. Without willpower or regimented rehearsals or workouts, without trying to overpower or outthink the autopilot consciously, my breathing became a means to mindfulness and a gradually shifting physical, emotional relationship with myself. Without trying to breathe in a new or better way or intentionally to alter my mood, my agility, activity level, and attitude improved.
Perhaps, I’m finally getting what Moshe meant by
"Restoring your body’s ability to breathe the way it was meant to"
And by the difference between trying to fix what is broken and eliminating what's interfering.
If you’re curious to know what that means for you or you’re just ready for a heartfelt sigh of relief, please join me online this weekend. I’m teaching Breathe Easier, a free workshop for anyone interested in breathing better.
Click on either of the underlined dates to sign up for the workshop. Enrollment is free but limited, so we can accommodate participants only on a first-come, first-served basis.
Please sign up for one or the other workshop; we would like to have some idea of how many people are going to attend each one. However, to make sure you have the option to attend whenever you like, we will send you the information for both events.
If you would let someone else know who’d be interested or if you’d make mention of it in your circle, that would be most appreciated. You can use the buttons below to share this blog on your favorite social media channel(s).
Thank you, in advance, for helping spread the word.
Breathe Easier is a live event. It’s real learning in a virtual classroom and it’s free. We will not be making the recordings available to folks who sign up or to those who show up.
(Participants in The Bodywise Project will receive access to the recordings as part of their tuition. It’s just one of the benefits you receive when you join the program.)
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