Breathing Freely

At this time, during the COVID-19 Pandemic, we’re deeply attuned to our lungs and to thinking about the health and safety of our respiratory systems. Breathing is fundamental to life. We breathe about 23,000 times a day most of the time not even aware that we’re doing so. Even if we are lucky enough to be healthy at this time, we are under stress. It’s easy for our breathing coordination to get off track in some way. Stress and fear causes us to involuntarily hold our breath. Holding our breath puts stress on our systems.

Jessica Wolf, Art of Breathing and Alexander Technique Teacher and faculty member at Yale School of Drama, states that “When we give ourselves permission to allow our breath to occur freely – rather than control it – we discover extraordinary vitality. There is an art to breathing.”

In this way, we can exercise some control over our stress levels and relieve feelings of panic. Feelings I’ve experienced multiple times over the past four weeks.

Contrary to the popular wisdom of taking a big breath in to relax, let your breath out. When we hold our breath we actually hold it in! So, invite an easy and efficient exhale – you can even make a sound while exhaling such as whispering an AH. An efficient, easy exhale will invite an easy inhale.

Breathing is movement! It involves all of the muscles of your torso, your ribs and spine. Below is a link to an excerpt of an animated film Jessica produced of the movement of all of the bones, muscles and organs involved in breathing. Jessica Wolf – Art of Breathing Film.

To read a short informative article about breathing coordination by Jessica Wolf called Improve Your Green Machine, click here.

– – I’ve been studying with Jessica Wolf for many years and am currently working toward certification in her Art of Breathing course, an advanced certification for AT teachers. In my own AT practice working with improving breathing coordination is integral to supporting my students overall three-dimensional dynamic alignment.

I hope you are reading this from the safety of your home and that you’re staying healthy. I’m home too. Private and semi-private lessons are available online only at this time. Contact me for more info.

Image from The Body Moveable written and illustrated by David Gorman.

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