A gentle breath out
Onto a softly cupped hand
This hand folding
Contains a sheen of moisture
In its palm.
The breath we feel upon our hand
Comes from deep within,
From activity in every cell.
The breath out , cleanses, moves
And carries our voice.
Then, like the tide turning,
Our ribs spring from draping to opening
Up and out, inviting
With a movement from our diaphragm,
The breath in.
Our Daily Breath
The breath is central to the practice of the Alexander Technique.
F. M. Alexander was born in Tasmania in 1869 and lived well into the 20th century, dying in 1955. It was a time when polluting fog and tuberculosis were rife, a time when the art of oratory was popular and was demonstrated in public speaking and sermons.
Initially his concern as an actor was his voice and the chronic condition of voice loss and how it affects whole body use. His studies and observations of himself led him from voice to breath and from breath to ‘Use’ i.e. the attitude of our whole being to any activity. It led him from the nature of the poise of the chest to the nature of the poise of the head on the spine and again to the nature of whole body use in the Alexander Technique.
Mind atmosphere, body attitude
Interweave with the patterns of our breath.
Breath affects our day,
Our day affects our breath.
I met and took part in a workshop led by Jessica Wolf in 2019. By then I had been teaching AT for over 30 years. Jessica teaches ‘The Art of Breathing’ which she developed from teaching AT and from her many years of working with Carl Stough in New York. Carl Stough dedicated his life to helping people restore their breathing co -ordination, his methods were particularly successful with patients suffering from emphysema and with athletes wishing to improve performance even at high altitude, as well as with singers which was where his interest began.
Since then I have taken part in her post graduate studies and I continue to both organise her courses and learn from her breadth of experience: observing patterns in breath, releasing interference and encouraging healthy breathing co-ordination.
Now in the 21st century our breathing co-ordination is becoming increasingly challenged: the intensive use of computers and mobile phones, an increase in anxiety and stress levels and the Covid virus; ‘long covid’ being of particular concern.
In the face of these conditions, the pioneering work of these two men has become increasingly pertinent. Their work continues to evolve and to be developed by teachers trained in the Alexander Technique.
Jessica Wolf’s Art of Breathing Demo