Asthma, stress related breathing problems and the Alexander Technique
Asthma sufferers say the greatest problem related to their condition is the feeling of rising panic as their neck muscles tighten, their shoulders yank up to their ears, and their abdominal muscles contract as a terrifying fear grips them and they feel that they will not be able to win the fight for their next breath.
In London at the beginning of the last century, F.M. Alexander was known amongst the doctors who sent him their patients as “the breathing man” because of the success he experienced in the matter of breathing by allowing the breathing mechanism to function normally and eradicating harmful habits which can interfere with this process.
We may have been taught by a music teacher to take a deep breath before we begin to sing, the physical education teacher might have said take several deep breaths in preparation for a demanding exercise, but this interfering of the breathing mechanism by the wilful sucking or gasping in of air is very much what Alexander wanted to discourage in favour of creating favourable conditions for expansion of the bodily framework, thus allowing by simple reflex mechanism the air to enter by itself.
So much have we been conditioned to believe that it is important to breath in and take for ourselves as many good deep breaths as possible, the Alexander Technique approach may appear to us to be something totally new, but on the contrary, it is like going back to the very first breath. When a baby is born the first movement the lungs make is to expel the fluid contained in them, to clear the breathing passages so that air can rush in. During this first breathing experience no idea about how this should be done, feelings of stress related to achievement, panic or fear that it won’t happen by itself interferes with this natural life giving process.
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