Whatever the ailment, breathing can help you

reach for the skyWhen I was 18 years old, I had three herniated disks in my neck that created so much pain I couldn’t turn my head more than one degree to the right and three degrees to the left.

At that time, the only help that doctors could suggest involved surgery and pain medication.

Through research, I was able to find a teacher of the Alexander Technique and began a course of study that continues to this day.

Throughout my training to become an Alexander teacher, I noticed that my breathing was compromised. I would yawn continually from the time I entered the classroom until I left, and I often felt tremendous exhaustion after simply doing three hours of training. Mostly, what I was feeling was the back and forth of release and holding of my breath.

Eleven years later, one of the other participants from my Alexander training recommended that I begin study with Carl Stough, founder of the Stough Institute of Breathing Coordination.

Carl was a master musician, vocalist, and choir director who vowed that by the end of ten weeks with him, students would find their breathing greatly improved—and they would begin to have a singing voice.

I was incredulous, doubtful, and actually cynical that breathing could improve the quality of my life. I surely never expected it could help the neck pain I still suffered. Alexander Technique had helped me 50 percent, but I would still have occasional bouts of neck muscle spasms and restriction of movement.

My work with Carl Stough began after my first session. I was testing him, doubtful that I would see any more improvement after eleven years as a teacher of the Alexander Technique.

Miraculously, after my first session of working with Carl on his table, with his very gentle manipulation of my tension patterns in my head, neck, and jaw, and focus on my exhalation, I had almost full rotation in my neck.

More important, all the pain was gone and has not returned from that day in 1992. Over the years, I’ve seen many of my students gain similar help from the simple act of breathing.

Explore Breath and Balance in Buncrana, Ireland date to be announced in 2014

Finding Center Through Breath and Balance,  is an opportunity to delve deeply into your breath, your physical patterns, and your unique relationship to stability and balance. Although we are breathing all the time, most of us experience restriction and constriction in our breathing and in our musculature. This is a natural result of emotional and postural patterns we each accumulate over a lifetime.

Together, we’ll take this time in Buncrana, Ireland to slow down and explore what it really means to enjoy freer breathing. We’ll examine how our daily habits prevent us from experiencing the ease and joy that are available to us all the time. Through yoga, private sessions, and group workshops, we’ll help you develop a greater awareness of your body and breath. Through sounding, toning, and voice, we’ll create a playful environment in which you can experiment with practices to support your daily life. All of these practices will give you greater mobility, pleasure, and joy in movement and breath, and ultimately, more balance. What makes this retreat unique is that it willl provide you with a toolbox of practices you can take home with you into your everyday life.

As bodywork and voice practitioners, we will host you on a journey to not only reveal the physical story of your breath and body, but also the emotional stories stored in your musculature. This retreat is an adventure in to the unknown. Together, we will explore our inner landscapes with deep intention, clarity of purpose, and a lightness of curiosity. Each day affords us the opportunity for meeting ourselves in a new way. This retreat is a chance to do exactly that. We will learn what becomes possible when we free up the tensions that have kept us safe and controlled. We invite you to come join us and explore another aspect of yourself. And we invite you to our lovely group of Irish friends and colleagues in Buncrana who have welcomed us with incredible generosity.

We recommend that participants begin the retreat with a private session with either Claire or Janice. This will allow for a hands on investigation into your particular areas of restriction and tension and physical patterns. Learn more or registerDownload the PDF. Call Janice at 646.734.5709 or email janice@bodydialogues.com to talk more.

Janice Stieber Rous is the founder of Body Dialogue, an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the body and mind. She combines yoga, breathing coordination, and Alexander Technique to help people reconnect with their natural breath and movement. Janice leads workshops and retreats across the globe and spends most of her time in New York City, Florida, and Israel.




Claire Hodge has more than 30 years experience as a voice teacher and brings the unique perspective of using toning to facilitate a new level of body awareness and breathing coordination. The powerful combination of Body Dialogue and voice help people gain more confidence, control, resonance and freedom in their everyday lives.

Response To Taking on Stress

Kristi recognized that she was taking on her clients pain. Even if you are not a massage therapist we ALL take on stress when it is in our field of energy. Kristi went from taking on others pain to having a personal transformation. You my be asking yourself how did this transformation occur?

First, Kirsti became AWARE that she was taking on others neck pain, if you do not know you are doing something you cannot shift it.

Second rather then trying to fix it, there are certain clues that can take our awareness and move it to the next level. For instance are we breathing, are we grounded into our legs on the floor or into our sit bones in the chair.

Third recognize the separation of the client from you, her emotions are not your emotions. Create an invisible shield to contain your energy within yourself.

Lastly this practice is a moment to moment choice, that rather then collapsing into the field of stress we choose to stay in our own central column of support.

The Holiday of Shavuot for Me

I am asking the question what does it mean to truly RECEIVE?

We use the word BUT this year I seem to hear the word differently.

Can I receive? Am I able to receive??

Can I take the time and drop into what it actually means to open my self to being a receiver? I know how to give. I know what it means to receive with my habitual fast track behavior. BUT what is it like to open quietly, slowly to be in the unknown of receiving. to actually be so open that you do not know exactly what you will receive

I just had an experience with a friend where she actually was angry that I do not know how to receiver her. As I thought about it I realized she is right. Even in my intimate relationships I like to be in control.

Can we truly receive if we want to hold onto control?

I am a person who practices mindfulness in as many endeavors as is possible and as I drop in to being more deliberate and stop being on automatic I have to confront that I have not been a receiver. I have mostly perfected giving as a way to receive.

It has been a transactional relationship. The quality I am opening to now is different. It is one of breathing, softening, releasing control  – being open to RECEIVE.

Stopping, breathing, softening, releasing expectation – what is that quality of receiving??

Perhaps i can be totally surprised??

Body Dialogue Is…

Body Dialogue Is...Look at this beautiful picture. Take your mind back to the beginning, your first steps. I want you to ask yourself what can she teach us?

A baby moves with intention and awareness in present time. She is captured in the moment, standing firmly on her feet, grounded through her legs, her spine is lengthened, her shoulder girdle is widening and balanced, her neck is free, and her head is turning from the top of her spine.

Body Dialogue teaches this organizational understanding. we are designed to be in balance, we are designed to breath fully. We are designed for ease and grace. What gets in our way are conditioned habits that fragment us and result in fear, stress, and lack of awareness. In a moment we can loose this awareness no matter what our age, but with awareness and simple tools we can reclaim this clarity.

Now ask yourself this…What do I know about my body? How do I listen to what my body tells me?