The Art of Breathing
"I do not claim to have discovered any new method of breathing, but to understand the only true one- Nature's"
- F. M. Alexander
Breath is the first movement we experience as we enter this world, and its effect on the quality of our life is immense. It is a gift requiring no conscious attention, but if illness or bad habits limit our breathing capacity, we can use our conscious mind to overcome them. "In truth, we do not breathe, we are breathed"; air comes out and in of our body with no effort; what we need to learn is to give up controlling our breath, and discover the strength and resilience of the respiratory system itself.
In 2006 I completed a post graduate course in "The Art of Breathing" giving me a unique expertise in facilitating coordinated breathing and free vocalization. Led by Jessica Wolf, this course combines the work of FM Alexander with understandings from Carl Stough's work, "Breathing Coordination".
FM Alexander (1869-1955), developed his technique in response to his own vocal problems. As he changed habitual compression of his neck and torso, he observed a marked change in the quality of his breathing. He concluded that a dynamic alignment of the body promotes efficient breathing. As he worked with students, changing the way they perform everyday movements, he paid attention to their breathing; any interference with its natural rhythm, such as holding their breath, pulling air in, or pushing it out, was stopped by freeing tensions in the neck, chest, legs and arms. For the past 100 years the Technique has benefited thousands of students who have changed their habits, and their lives, with its help. It is embraced by performing arts academies world-wide as a fundamental element in training actors, dancers, singers and musicians
Carl Stough (1926-2000), was a pioneer in the science of respiration, he began his career as a choral conductor, and first developed his method as an intuitive response to vocal misuse. Later he evolved it, through ten years of research,into the concept of "Breathing Coordination". This term describes a state in which the respiratory system functions at maximum efficiency with minimum effort. Stough understood the importance that the diaphragm plays in breathing, and was the first to devise a way to strengthen this muscle. Being an involuntary muscle, the diaphragm was thought to be uncontrollable. Stough found that if he prevented the overworking of the secondary muscles of breathing, such as the stomach and the intercostal muscles, the diaphragm would perform to its capacity.
Carl Stough's work has been beneficial for people suffering a wide range of disorders and disabilities, including respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, allergies & emphysema as well as muscular-skeletal pain and psychological disorders. He was also instrumental in training athletes and musicians, such as the US olympic track team at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968, and the singers of the Metropolitan Opera.
Bringing both perspectives together will give you a powerful tool to transform breath, movement and elighment. You will learn simple procedures that help reestablish and strengthen involuntary breathing, as well as establish an understanding of how to use this knowledge while moving through daily activities.
For more information about "the Art of Breathing" and "breathing Coordination" see: