What makes a satisfying, deep breath?

So many people tell me that can’t get a deep and satisfying breath.

The key to a deep and satisfying breath is a strong, resilient, dynamic diaphragm. Chances are you have been told that the diaphragm is important to get a good breath, but if you’re like most people, I suspect you have no idea what that really means.
It’s true that the diaphragm IS the main breathing muscle. If your diaphragm is weak, you’ll have a shallow excursion up and down in the rib cage on the in breath and the out breath. 
The trick is that you cannot strengthen the diaphragm the way you train other muscles.
The only way to strengthen the tissue of this muscle/organ is through toning, sounding, and vocalizing — not exercise and exertion.
It is the coordination of the diaphragm, lungs, intercostal muscles, and abdominal muscles which determine optimal breathing.
In the following practice videos you will learn how to build the tone without effort to strengthen the diaphragm, thereby improving the coordination of your breathing.
Think of vocalizing as a vibrational isometric exercise that improves the elasticity and tone of the diaphragm and also improves the coordination of all the different functions, resulting in a fuller breath.

Try these three videos, and after a month’s time you will most likely feel improvement and a better exchange of inhalation and exhalation.

A Gentle Breathing Coordination Practice

Dear beloved friends,

I know we now find a plethora of opportunities online for learning. And I know it is common knowledge that breathing is important. With that as a given,I’d like to add to the conversation what I have learned from my teacher Carl Stough, aka “Dr. Breath”. Because I was his student for over a decade, I learned the benefit of using less effort for better results when maximizing efficiency of the breath. Bringing ourselves into a full breath allows us to ground in the present moment and helps us manage fear better. It also can shift our nervous system out of a fight/flight/freeze response.

This post is about how to optimize your breath for a more restorative exchange of the inhale and exhale.

Here are some rules I learned from Carl Stough, as well as some common misunderstandings.

First, breathing is a function of many systems that need to work in coordination. 
For example:
-The tongue needs to be heavy and not held in place by effort. 
-The head and neck must be allowed to be free, without the neck working to hold the head in its place.
-The voice and throat are best used when the throat opens from the back of the jaw.
-The main sensation is one of NOT PUSHING.
-Again: NO BIG effort or PUSH.

Common misunderstandings:
-The more you work out, the better you will breathe.
-The harder you work, the stronger the lungs.

IN FACT, BREATHING is about allowing. The lungs empty the stale air on the exhale. The exhale needs to be a release and NOT a push.

The muscles of your diaphragm, which is primarily responsible for respiratory function, are only strengthened when you TONE and VIBRATE with no effort on the pitch that feels most natural for you. We look for the overtones to vibrate and maximize efficiency of the coordination.
All of this I learned from Carl Stough.
In the video below, I will encourage you to move and breathe with no effort, a smile on your face and joy to be alive.
Remember: Exhaling is what allows the inhale.


A note from a new vantage point

This note went out to my mailing list on January 19, 2020, 8 days after my surgery. I share it now as I continue the healing process.

Dear friends,

It’s been eight days since surgery, and yesterday I actually went to a restaurant with a walker and my new hip. I say it that way because it is not actually a part of me yet. I can feel that it’s working hard to join the rest of my body that knows me so well, but this new hip and I are not yet best of friends. It throbs at night and makes for an awkward and stiff gait that has never been really the me that I enjoy. At the worst of times I fear I will never be myself again, and then my rational mind looks at all the progress already made.At night I listen to meditation tapes to quiet my fears and discomfort, but during the day my life is pretty single focused. I do therapy, I rest and I walk. I have little attention for the world.It’s hard to chat and have simple conversations because I am preoccupied. I am delighting in all the well-wishes and love coming to me from every direction. It brings to mind my days when the roles were reversed and I was the visitor bringing news of the outside world.I understand why the sick friends whom I visited wanted to hear about me. It becomes a very insular world just thinking about your particular aches and pains. On the other hand, it has slowed my pace and made me mindful in ways I rarely was before. This morning the sunrise woke me up and I sat at the window in sheer awe and delight.
My last blog elicited many responses and my heart was filled with appreciation to hear from those of you who wrote. It means so much to know that these words actually land in someone’s heart/mind.
I send you blessings today and hope you are as filled with awe and gratitude as I am when you see the new day.

Love and blessings,


Rewiring my Brain

I know it is my hip that was removed and a new hip installed, but I actually feel I am rewiring my brain.

Today I have entered my fourth week after my surgery. I am amazed at how much I love the slowness and simplicity of the life I have had in those weeks.

My priorities are so clear. Every day I tend to my body in the form of my exercises and I tend to my mind by meditating. I try to stay openhearted and clearsighted as much as possible and not fall back into old thought patterns.

I remember feeling something like this when I had my hysterectomy back in 1997.

I thought I would never forget how good it felt to go slowly and to have much less on my schedule than was my usual pattern.

To focus and simplify my life down to manageable goals every day became my mantra. 

I knew then and I know now that RUSHING is not an option. It results in breathlessness and anxiety, my two enemies.

As I start to re-enter the world, I feel very tender toward this new-found energy. I want to be met with this gentle, soft awareness. I feel a kind of precious knowing that this state of being is preferable to the old way of feeling always slightly out of balance with a little too many plates spinning in the air.

Then, I believed my self-worth was dependent on how much I did. I believed life is too boring if you slow down.

Now I feel that the amount I do and what I accomplish daily is only measured by the quality with how I do it. At the center of my actions is my love of each and every encounter, be it with nature or with another human. 

Deepak Chopra says perfect health is finding daily balance. That is an awesome goal, since balance has always been a great goal of mine, but one that proved elusive.

I also think balance is not static. It is finding the flow and fluidity of our body-mind. It is recognizing what takes us out of flow and fluidity. It also makes decision-making easier since that goal is a center point for me. 

As I re-enter the bigger world, I pray I can continue to remember some of the biggest lessons I have received from this experience.

Since I have heard from many of you that these blogs are helpful,  I’d like to ask you to say more about your idea of perfect health and how it relates to FINDING your balance. 

A New Normal

Today I was mesmerized by a white egret in a dance of one-legged preening and cleaning on my dock.

He regally alighted three feet from me and then set out to show me his ritual that probably is part of his daily life self-care.

I marveled and sat up tall, as I am now two weeks out of my hip reconstruction and have a new self-care ritual.

Not the one I had most of my life, a new one. 

It is a new normal.

It is a chance to integrate a new body part into my beloved best friend that I have taken good care of all my life.

So once again I say YES to life. I say YES to choosing to have a total hip replacement.

Some of you have written to me in response to my blogs, feeling worried, and concerned for me.

But actually I feel like celebrating!

I was scared, but I overcame the fear, by taking a risk to create a healthier future. I said NO to fear and yes to risk and challenge. 

So here I sit typing my observations of my new normal.

I am slower, more awake and aware, and feeling immune to the rush of the outer world. I am happy to be home to reconnect with friends and to have time with my precious daughter and my partner.

All in all, I am here to report my dance is continuing and I am better than ever.

It is a new dance with a new dance partner — my body — but she is still my best friend. We are simply learning a new rhythm and some new steps. 

Is my leg stiff? Yes.

Do I need to build strength? Yes.

Do I feel encouraged and enlivened by the fact that I listen well and rest when I need to?


So, all in all, I am not in fear. 

I am mostly in GRATITUDE. I am in awe that after two weeks my body is accepting this new way of being and we are co-creating a new series of moves.

I am not worried that this might take a while since I have the rest of my life to get better and better.

Thanks to all who are writing. It brings joy to my heart to connect and feel our relationships. If you do not write that’s fine too, BUT if you want to be in dialogue, just say hi.

Blessings to you in all your steps. 

With appreciation,


A New Body Dialogue

I saw a doctor three years ago, and, after hearing my symptoms and taking an X-ray, she said, “One day you might need a hip replacement.”

With absolute certainty, I said that I would never need a hip replacement. I believed I could manage the pain and work to correct the problem.

I said NEVER. I will never have a hip replacement.

So how is it, then, that on January 10, 2020, I will have surgery? How did that happen? What made me decide the time had come to get the surgery and move on?

“Never” is a curious word. 

How can you be so certain of something and then life actually makes you change your mind?

I used to come to Florida to visit my mom. She suggested I consider moving here one day. I said, “REST assured, Mom . . .  I will never live in Florida.” Yet here I am. I came to visit in 2005, and now I live here permanently. HOW did that NEVER become NOW?

I never believed my hip would become so bad that walking in the park with my daughter would be so hard that when my friend suggested surgery something in me said, “Maybe I need to consider that choice.”

I never thought I would need a car service to take my grandkids to the nearest playground to their home in Safed. 

But after talking to my friends who had the surgery, I realized that the quality of my life and how much I can move with ease was very important to me.

In fact, since I have made the decision, many layers of healing have already begun.

Because I promised myself I would never do this surgery and have now changed my mind, I have had to examine what had previously kept me from considering it.

Was it simply fear that, as bad as the pain was, the risk of putting my body in someone else’s care and hands was too risky?

Was it simply that I hate hospitals and have done my best to stay away from them?

Was it that the fear of being dependent on others during recovery and having to take the time to repair my body from something so invasive was inconceivable?

I think all these factors have presented themselves to me.

Just today I saw a man with a walker. I see that and my mind says, “What if something goes wrong and my surgeon has a bad day”?

These worries are keeping me up at night.

I wake up in a sweat,

After all, I am a dancer. My body is my best friend.

She’s been my closest ally all my life.

My body is the source of pleasure. How is it that recently she is also the source of throbbing pain?

It’s not just the insult of aging.

It’s the attachment I have to be the best, healthiest, most body-smart 69 year old around. So much pride and hubris wrapped up in being the teacher who can heal herself; having to always know more than others.

After all, I started dancing when I was three years old. I have been working with my body and training her for as long as I can remember.

So it is with that attitude that I have embarked on this healing journey.

I am looking at what I have carried in this hip. What is the story that goes with having a hip and back that makes walking so hard? What is it to go deep into the healing of my whole pelvis and perhaps revisit my hysterectomy? I am quite certain that I actually never did the emotional work necessary for clearing the energy that was stuck as a result of that surgery.

So here I am, two weeks out, and I find myself in daily dialogue with this hip.

I am facing ancestral healing that is required on both sides of the female line in my pelvis, and now I am facing the discipline I need (and that I avoid) to be quiet and contemplative so I can be a partner in my healing with my surgeon.

I write this blog as a way to introduce this new BODY DIALOGUE that I have avoided and hoped would never be my story.

And here it is.

If you can relate to my story, I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for listening,