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How do you feel your breath?

Movement is life. Without movement life is unthinkable. Moshe Feldenkrais

The breath is sometimes referred to as the life force, as it is the purest form of nourishment for human on planet earth.Without it, we simply cannot survive, yet without movement, the breath is valueless.The body has a streamlined set of intricate tools to ensure the breath keeps flowing in and out of our lungs, as long as we are alive.The truth is, when I reflect on the breath and it’s relationship to movement in my body, I feel my whole body in a state of constant ebb and flow with the inhale and exhale.

In anticipation of the breath, the body organizes itself.The lower back muscles relax and drop, inviting the abdominal and pelvic diaphragms to go into flexion. The throat softens and tongue releases away from the palette and front of mouth.There is a looseness in the skin and tissues of the body that creates space around the boney structures. In a sense, the whole body makes room for the breath.

As the oxygen moves in through my nose upon taking a breath, I feel my nostrils flare slightly, my upper palette subtly lift into the cranial cavity, and a gentle contraction through the gums receding from the teeth. Air moves into the body through the pharynx,trachea and windpipe,and the abdominal diaphragm contracts and pulls down enabling oxygen to be pulled into the lungs like a vacuum sucking air into two great balloons.The lungs fill, my ribcage expands and the abdomen is moved down while expanding anteriorly, posteriorly and laterally. As the breath fills the space of the abdomen, the pelvic diaphragm broadens across the base of the torso as the breath fills into the space of the lower abdominal cavity, extending the upper buttock muscles and lumbar spine.

Meanwhile, the base of the sternum lifts, the front of the shoulders in connection with the collarbone lift ever so slightly and flair back, raising the front base of the armpit to allow the upper corners of the lungs to fill.The scapula broaden laterally as the rib age expands, making space for the spine to lengthen vertically in both directions. I feel the neck muscles flex while the trachea and pharynx also move in flexion. There appears to be a lifting through the cranium, particularly the occiput and temporal bones which flex laterally, lengthening the eustachian tubes and creating space between the inner ears. The upper palette lifts and the tongue presses slightly, naturally upon the roof of the mouth. A spaciousness encapsulates the whole of the cranial cavity, I can almost envision the pineal and pituitary glands rounding and lifting as they expand into the newly created space. As a result of the inhalation, the skin feels porous and expanded; a healthy, supple container that aides in my breathing the whole body.

The exhalation is initiated at the top of the inhale, and feels like a journey downhill as a passive sensation takes over my whole body. Air moves out of my nose, and I feel my throat soften and collarbone drop.The scapula relax as the intercostal muscles soften and release the ribs inward. As the diaphragm expands upward compressing the lungs, the sternum drops, the abdomen pulls up and the sides of the torso soften.The pelvic diaphragm’s inverted dome releases downward, flaring the sit bones slightly apart.This subtly rotates the outer thighs inward.The whole body is at rest, loose and empty, preparing for the next wave of breath to inspire, to ventilate, to move life through the body.

How do you feel you body breath?

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