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More Relaxed Breathing in Minutes


The Feldenkrais Method is a lesser known and unconventional, yet powerful type of exercise. The movements are usually done lying down and the "goal" would be to move very slowly, using as little effort as possible. It is important to refrain from forcing while paying close attention to the movements and how it feels to do them.

One of the exercises he created is called See Saw Breathing:

- Find a carpeted floor or a fairly firm exercise mat. Lie down on your back with knees bent. Put a rolled towel or pillow under your head or pelvis if that helps you to get more comfortable.

-Take a few deep breaths just observing how you breathe. Which areas of your rib cage are moving and where does it feel stiff? Take one more deep breath and take note of how much you can inhale before you feel any resistance. Now just relax and breathe normally for a few breaths.

- Now inhale gently while contracting the belly button in toward the spine and simultaneously expanding the chest.

- Reverse the motion to breath out. Flatten the chest while expanding the abdomen in all directions.

- Start with a very small movement. Its perfectly alright if you are barely moving or even just imagining the movement. It doesn't matter how big the movement is. The important thing here is to stay comfortable. Try to move in a way that you like, that feels good to you.

- Practice that for a few minutes. You can also try taking a small breath and then holding the breath while practicing that same movement. After a few minutes take a deep breath in and notice the difference.

It is important to note that this not the way you want to breathe normally. Many Feldenkrais movements rely on a concept called "differentiation". Certain parts of our bodies tend to move together as a group even though they are capable of moving individually. Slowing down and paying attention to the movement helps our nervous system to better organize our movements and prevent undue tension.

Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984) was an engineer and Judo master before beginning career in bodywork after he sustained a knee injury during his martial arts training. He used his knowledge of physics and engineering to help him find ways to move more efficiently and identify the pattern of strain that led to his injury.

Please consult your doctor or health care provider if you are unsure at all about trying a new exercise.