Case Study – Breathing

Alice is 35, has experienced chronic illness and felt that she did not breathe well. Many years ago F.M. Alexander, known as “The Breathing Man”, made the intriguing comment that, “there is no such thing as breathing as such”. Alice had been maintaining her posture with a great deal of misplaced tension. This tension certainly “held her up” but at the cost of restriction to ease of movement and to freedom in the breathing. It was as if she was wearing a suit of muscular armour which kept her stiff and her breathing unresponsive and limited.

“If the framework is right and you don’t interfere, your breathing will always adapt itself to the needs of the activity you are performing” (Langford). Unfortunately, the “IF” is a major stumbling block, because of the vagaries and standard of one’s personal habits of use (misuse). To what extent do we habitually use ourselves poorly, without ever realizing it?

Alice has been having regular lessons, frequently at first, recently less so, now that she has learnt how to work on herself.

Gradually, paying attention to the Alexander triple bottom line of posture/breathing /movement, Alice has been able to recognize when she can reduce tension in her neck, shoulders and back. A state of less general tension has gradually supplanted her old habits and with it she has progressively made more elasticity available for her whole breathing function to work more freely and with more responsiveness. She also moves more freely and has more energy, since she is squandering less on continuous, unnecessary tension. As the “framework” has improved, so too has Alice’s breathing and issues to do with breathing have steadily receded.

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