We breathe about 23,000 times a day. Anything we do that frequently, we want to do effectively. Breathing is as fundamental to life as the beating of the heart. Because we usually take breathing for granted, we tend not to realize the harmful effects that faulty breathing have on us, nor the freedom we gain by improving how we breathe. 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.
For more than 35 years, I have helped people restore their natural breathing rhythms and psychophysical balance using a method I developed called Jessica Wolf’s Art of Breathing. By simultaneously exploring the principles of the Alexander Technique and Carl Stough’s Breathing Coordination, I help my students identify limiting and harmful habits, and provide tools to change them.
Breathing, while involuntary in nature, is something we can influence. In my lessons, I maintain awareness of the relationship among my students’ heads, necks, and backs while placing my hands on their torsos to listen to their individual breathing rhythms. I identify the physical habits and tensions that lead students to muscle and hold the breath. With my hands, I encourage the breath to become rhythmic, fueling the length of the spine and giving support to the back. The breath gives us a three-dimensional experience of the torso and supports our musculoskeletal framework.
I often ask myself whether efficient breathing begins with dynamic alignment, or whether balance and coordination rely on efficient breathing. Wherever we begin, developing a kinesthetic awareness of the breath is imperative. Jessica Wolf’s Art of Breathing enables us to meet the demands of modern life with ease and stamina. My students find freedom of breath, enhance physical mobility, achieve vocal clarity, and restore overall vitality.
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Conversations with Robert Rickover at BodyLearning: The Alexander Technique Podcast (CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN)