Breath, Sleep, and the Rhythm of Life

I’ll talk in another post about the way the Feldenkrais Method works with the breath (by alternating observation and intentional manipulation), but here I’d like share something of the power of the Sounder Sleep System, developed by my friend Michael Krugman who, though a Feldenkrais practitioner himself, has developed an incredibly effective approach to dealing with insomnia that is its own system. (Check out his website, www.soundersleep.com, or his blog, “Perchance to Dream”).

Try it for yourself! Lie quietly in any comfortable position (one good way is to be on your back with your hands on your belly or your chest), and...

Make no effort

Make no effort to breathe

Make no effort to breathe deeply

Make no effort to breathe deeply, or in any special way.

Simply let the breath come and go of its own accord. Trust your body to know how much oxygen it needs from moment to moment. Certainly if you’re lying down quietly, your body doesn’t need much oxygen, so there’s no reason to breathe deeply. This may seem too simple to work if you’re used to some specific breath technique, but think about it: when you’re sleeping, you don’t control your breath!

The fact is that this really works. Most of my students report better sleep and calmer living after the first class, and even the most hard-core insomniacs in my classes experience significant relief by the third or fourth week.

It’s not the other movements in the
Sounder Sleep System don’t have a tranquilizing (or, more accurately, inhibitory) effect -- because they certainly do. But ultimately, it’s this simple idea -- that allowing your breath to settle into its own natural rhythm will help your life settle into a better rhythm of waking and sleep -- that has made the biggest difference in my life, and, I believe, in the lives of my students.