Breathing, voice, and movement therapy: Applications to breathing disorders
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Elsa Gindler (1885–1961) developed a holistic approach to the human body and psyche via the movement of breath. Gindler experimented with movements to strengthen the deeper layers of the muscular system and improve the circulation of oxygen, movements that reduced tensions that had been preventing the breathing muscles from functioning properly. Subsequently, she founded a school for breathing and body awareness. The biggest breathing muscle in the human body is the diaphragm, the lowering of which can only take place when the jaw and the throat are relaxed, the belly is free, and the psoas (major and minor) and hip joints allow free leg-movement and flexibility in the lower back. When these conditions do not obtain, the body compensates by lifting the shoulders, pulling up the chest bone, and contracting the sphincter muscles in the throat, movements which weaken the muscles which assist the breathing process. Thus, the compensatory muscles are overburdened and the fine organization of the body is disturbed; the natural capacity to use the breath as a healing force is lost. The goal of breath therapy is to recognize and reestablish this capacity. Training sessions are devoted to relaxation; to exercises to rebuild muscle tone, strengthen weakened muscles, release contracted areas, and the use of the voice to stimulate the respiratory system. Sessions typically consist of (a) relaxation, (b) activation (experimenting with new, freer ways of moving), and (c) integration (application to everyday life). The therapist analyzes incidents of stress in the client's life where breathing is likely to be disturbed. This is especially important for asthmatics who can learn how to deal with an attack by relaxing rather than contracting. This work is especially beneficial for problems in (a) the skeletal structure, (b) respiration, (c) vital organs, and (d) general symptoms.
KeywordsWeakened Muscle Muscle Tone Holistic Approach Vital Organ Fine Organization
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