Tip 3 – BREATHE! Notice if you have inadvertently stopped breathing when concentrating or listening. Is there a ‘catch up’ breath?

In the Alexander Technique we have a saying “Good breathing does itself, the only thing we can DO is mess it up”!

So what does that mean? Many of us actually stop or interrupt our breathing when concentrating, maybe on a piece of work we are doing. We may also stop breathing when listening and it is very likely that when we are faced with a situation that is stressful we will stop breathing. I know from experience that when my back used to go into spasm, the one thing I didn’t do was breath.

We teach something called “Whispered Ah” and I usually spend at least one session explaining the mechanism of breathing. What parts of you are moving with the breath, the ribs, the diaphragm, the abdominal muscles, even the pelvic floor. We experience what happens on the out breath and if we leave everything alone we discover that the in breath kind of DOES ITSELF. It is in fact a reflex action. This is more of an observation exercise rather than “The Alexander way to breath” i.e.: getting us back to natural breathing.

However even in the first session I encourage people to let a bit of air out, like when we say the “AH”! in “ Ah, a cup of tea would be nice”, more of a sigh. This is a good stress buster and helps to relax our muscles whether feeling stressed or if we suddenly experienced a sudden pain.

People often hold their breath when they go into movement especially if they think it is difficult i.e.: from sitting to standing people may hold their breath, grip everything, then move. They are then surprised that the movement may have been quite uncomfortable. Try it for yourself. Move out of the chair in your habitual way, then try it again but let that “Ah” sound out the second time as you move. Different?

Alexander looks at all our habitual patterns, how we stand, how we sit, how we walk and how we react to things so naturally we will also look at what habits we have around breathing so we can get back to a more natural way of being. If in doubt let a bit of air out “AH”!

Image c/o STAT.

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