Breath and the Alexander Technique


Singers are often admonished to ‘take’ a breath.  What about this instead?  Enjoy a full exhale, followed by allowing the inhalation to happen, without any doing.  It’s a bit like inhaling the lovely aroma of a rose.  If a big-time sniff is used, the delicate scent is missed. A gentle inhale permits the flower to give to us the gift of its perfume.

Mr. Alexander was known in London, England as “The Breathing Man,” but he didn’t teach breathing techniques. What he did teach was his discovery of the primary place of balance in the body….head poised on spine.  In the business of learning this organizing principle of the human structure, his students found they could breathe so much easier, both on the inhale and exhale.


Ever gone scuba diving?  I haven’t.  However, I have seen photographs of how these oxygen tanks are worn on the body.  They are positioned up high on the back.  Keep that image in your mind as you engage in mapping the location of your lungs within the thoracic cavity of your torso.  The lungs are quite high.  In fact, the top of each lung is above the clavicle (collarbone).  Yes.  Really.

What does this mean for how we think about breathing?  Mainly, it means we don’t have to go excavating for breath.  We will not find it in our abdomen (that’s where all our viscera/internal organs reside….no air there…well, maybe in the intestines, but I digress…)

Breath is not as much work as we have made it out to be.  This is true for singers and other  wind-instrument-musicians who rely on a well-developed capacity for breath, and also for everyone else running through a regular day.

As Marjorie Barstow used to say about the Technique, “It’s a little bit of nothing.” ‘Breathe easy’ today, and may it be a day of sweet scents.






3 thoughts on “Breath and the Alexander Technique

  1. barmac5 August 11, 2016 / 6:50 pm

    Great post on breathing the Alexander Way, thanks for this 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Stephanie Henkle August 12, 2016 / 12:15 am

    health crisis with Jim’s Mom right in the thick of recital time now. Have been on the phone all afternoon w/ his siblings –  maybe all of them put together have some semblance of a brain – super behind now. reading this – even on borrowed time – settled me. No BS – it really did. Again, as always, you were my bud. (my ROSEbud!) Thx.


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