Better Breathing Workshops

All Workshops at:
The Hobart Breathing Space
13b Goulburn St, Hobart

What is Better Breathing? Pilates & Feldenkrais
Sunday, June 30th 1-5

Better Breathing & Emotion -Martial Arts & Feldenkrais
Sunday, July 28th 1-5

Better Breathing & Voice: Alexander Technique & Feldenkrais
Sunday, September 1st 1-5pm

Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy & Feldenkrais
Sunday, September 29th 1-5pm

Better Breathing

The `Better Breathing’ workshops arose from curiosity about how different disciplines approach this huge topic. There will be practical lessons about breathing from the perspectives of Pilates, Martial Arts, Alexander Technique, Physiotherapy, and the Feldenkrais Method, as well as science, discussion and feedback.

Joanna and Nicole are Feldenkrais practitioners, and will contribute to each of the workshops alongside one of the other 4 disciplines.

We all breathe. Stopping breathing means dying. We are all good enough at it, but many of us have experiences which indicate that we could do it “better”. Including sensations of shortness of breath, inability to take a full breath, rapid breathing, anxiety, tight throat, jaw, shoulders, chest and abdomen, panic attacks, asthma, sighing and throat clearing.

Many of us have poor posture, as if we are still hunched over a screen when we are standing, walking, interacting with friends and with the outside world. Poor posture means poor breathing, and there are many consequences.

Our emotional lives are played out in our breathing. We change the way we feel when we change our breathing pattern- or is it a change in breathing which changes the way we feel?

There are so many instructions – and no one thing which suits everyone all the time. These workshops are an offer of opportunities to glimpse different perspectives on breathing. The Feldenkrais contribution includes coming home to the reality we live with every day – our own body-mind system. How does this happen?

The Feldenkrais Method develops our awareness of what we are doing. As a result, we develop choice. These workshops will focus on how and where we breathe in our bodies. We will visit the science behind the recommendations. We will play with movements and discover what works for us. As children, play was our main learning tool. For adults, play is still fun and still effective. We learn best with a smile on our faces and in our hearts.

Dr Moshe Feldenkrais, 1904 – 1984, was a physicist, engineer, soccer player, author, and martial artist. His self-observation after a knee injury led eventually to the skills of self-observation and learning which Feldenkrais Practitioners all work with and continue to develop today.

Joanna de Burgh completed the first Professional Feldenkrais Training in Australia in 1990. The Feldenkrais Method continues to delight and inform her in daily life and in leading Awareness Through Movement classes. She has retired from her day job as a GP. It is exciting that there is so much science now backing up the observations of Dr Moshe Feldenkrais.

Nicole Harstead is a Movement Educator of over 20 years. She taught dance in the Senior Secondary System and as a Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner she loves assisting people to find more freedom and joy in their movement. She works with individuals and groups.

What is Better Breathing? Pilates & Feldenkrais
Sunday, June 30th 1-5

In the first Better Breathing workshop Joanna and Nicole will guide you in learning to breathe in different ways. What is the science of good breathing? What are the mechanics of breathing?

Pilates “Inhale, exhale” – beyond the core. 

A key focus of the Pilates method is strengthening the body’s trunk musculature or ‘core’. To achieve this effectively we engage the abdominal muscles, lower back muscles, glutes, and pelvic floor. Since some core muscles are also involved in breathing, including the diaphragm, effective strength training must incorporate breath work. Breath and core strength are both parallel concepts and intertwined. Just as core musculature can work both passively and actively in the body, the breath can also work passively or as a focused active movement.  In this workshop we will guide participants through Pilates repertoire and breathing exercises which will enhance the use of both concepts individually, and then collectively with breath as a key foundation for effective core strength.

Peter Eastment is a Pilates instructor who is passionate about improving and supporting movement and stability through the use of Pilates, breathing and other similar techniques. In Peter’s practice he looks at the different elements that affect movement such as lifestyle training, and develops a plan based on a holistic approach. Peter is a Diploma Qualified Pilates Instructor, and certified Personal Trainer and has worked as a rehab trainer with clients from diverse backgrounds.

Jo Behrens is an experienced and warm Pilates instructor who is well known for her precise instruction and flowing choreography. Jo works closely with Flex Health Therapy physiotherapists to devise programs that target people’s specific needs. When she’s not at Flex you’ll find her in her teacher training role at Inspired Academy, training others to become Pilates instructors. Jo has a particular interest in helping people to age well. She is an advocate of functional, intelligent movement for all bodies, and builds stability and confidence in her clients regardless of their age, fitness or ability level. 

Better Breathing & Emotion -Martial Arts & Feldenkrais
Sunday, July 28th 1-5

 In the second workshop Joanna and Nicole will explore the connection between breathing and our emotional states.

Martial Arts

My experience has shown me how central understanding the breath is to the practice of martial arts, both in terms of physical conditioning but also in generation of power in technique. An effective martial artist knows how to breath well, how to breath efficiently, how to calm their breath and how to affect the breath of opponents. Understanding the anatomy and the rhythm of breathing, will help to develop depth in your breath which is essential to nourish your body. I will be guiding participants through exercises that are used in Martial Arts to improve breathing.

Gerry Young is a Martial Artist and Instructor with Black Belts in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Hapkido. He has had extensive experience in training, competition, coaching, refereeing as well as real world application of martial arts over the last 25 years.

Better Breathing & Voice: Alexander Technique & Feldenkrais
Sunday, September 1st 1-5pm

 In this third workshop Nicole and Joanna will highlight the inter-relationships between breathing, posture, and the pelvic floor.

Alexander Technique

We will look at the principals of the Alexander Technique specifically in relation to breath and voice. To have a clear free resonant voice we need to be grounded, balanced over our feet, have no unnecessary tension in our neck and shoulders, and allow our breath to be free. Many of us teach, run workshops, or have to speak in public. Those you are wishing to connect with will feel safe, and truly hear what you are saying if your breath and voice are free of tension and supported by your whole body.

Penny McDonald has been teaching the Alexander Technique since 1996. She has a private practice in lutruwita/Tasmania and has taught at many music and acting schools. She also trains future teachers of the Alexander Technique

Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy & Feldenkrais
Sunday, September 29th 1-5pm

In this final workshop, Nicole and Joanna will look at how breathing is linked to the outside world, creativity, flow, and curiosity. Joanna will address how we can best nourish our breathing so it can best nourish us.


Breathing is intimately related to movement – it affects posture, stability and muscle function. In this session, you will learn about the influence of breathing on movement, and how moving beautifully is not just about the body. It will also include some practical concepts for you to explore.

Hester Laughlin has studied extensively to address movement dysfunctions, helping people optimise movement, regain function and confidence, and alleviate pain. I work holistically with people from all walks of life from the young to those with advanced life experience, and the elite sportsperson to the mobility-challenged.

The power of letting go

Most of us have an idea about how we want our lives to go but when things are not going to plan, finding acceptance can be difficult. If we are making new plans, it can be like stepping out onto a precipice. Moving out of our comfort zone is bound to bring up some fears and uncertainty. 


We all need a feeling of security, familiarity and safety in our lives. But could a time come where familiarity and security become a habit so firmly entrenched that it becomes difficult to move somewhere different in our lives and we start to feel stuck?


It’s not easy to see how much we try to control our lives and the people around us. Most of us feel more comfortable when outer circumstances fit our view of the world. There certainly are behaviors that will increase the likelihood of our lives going to plan such as eating well, caring for others, being driven and organised in carving out your life. Still how many times have we seen our lives and others lives, descending into chaos due to unexpected illness or loss of loved ones, or a job.


Letting go is something we are strongly encouraged to practise because of world-wide events. The world around us is certainly changing. Technology is advancing at a pace in which many people and our environment cannot keep up with. Our world-altering health pandemics have irreversibly changed our way of life. It is a harsh truth that we don't know what turn our lives are going to take. We can increase the probability of a good life and security but it's no guarantee.  From my own experience grieving is like a slow process of letting go of a loved one that has passed away. So we may be forced to let go through a process of grieving or we can practise letting go, giving up control and creating space a little each day. 


Letting go of our expectations of how things should be can make the changes in our lives easier to cope with. We can fearfully cling to the past, security or fixed ideas or we can be open to new possibilities. I love the idea of learning to step back, create space for others, as some people might say getting out of our own way. Stephen Nachmanovitch is an improviser who wrote the book ‘The art of is: improvising as a way of life’. He describes the process of ‘stepping-back and creating space’ in movement and musical improvisation as analogous to how we teach ourselves as individuals and as partners in relationships to be human beings. He observes that wonderful things happen in the creative space when he as a teacher nurtures rather than leads or controls.


Beta brain waves range from 13-40 HZ and are associated with everyday activity. Beta brain wave frequencies in the highest range are associated with the stress that is endemic in our world.  Wanting to be in control is more likely to create stress and many believe control of the outside world is impossible anyway.


In contrast, mindfulness meditation has been linked to lower-frequency alpha waves in a study by Cahn and Polich in 2006. Alpha brain waves range from 8-12 HZ are dominant during quietly flowing thoughts, rest, calmness, mind/body integration and learning (Brainwaves Neurotherapy). Methods such as `Awareness through movement’ in Feldenkrais produce similar alpha states which help improve the mind and body connection and learning. 


Isla Klasing was a CEO of KFC in Germany in 2016 who struggled significantly after a horse-riding accident.  During her long recovery she had no choice but to give up some control in her life, and not without difficulty. She describes how rather than suffering, her team blossomed, which increased KFCs’ marketplace success significantly. Klasing said learning the power of letting go also made her happier in her personal life.

According to Klasing, the power of letting go has three parts. First, trusting that benefits can come from letting go, secondly, switching off our phone/digital-detox gives us the freedom to let go of the outside world and third, adopting breathing / mindfulness techniques) to quieten your busy mind.


We have all had the experience of having change forced upon us and the discomfort it can bring. Twelve years ago I was separating from my first husband. It was December and some girlfriends and I were camping on the North-East Coast of Tasmania. One morning I woke up early and decided to have a short meditation in the bush. As I sat there I was looking up at a tree nearby. I noticed this tree had a branch that was falling away. It was a difficult time emotionally, so I could see myself in the broken, messed-up branch. I can still remember the image of that branch. 


Then I noticed the tree as a whole and could see its potential and beauty. I could see my life journey as being like the trees’ journey. Even though it was a time of upheaval I would keep growing, and have new branches. The scar of that broken branch could heal over. It was the beginning of my ability to let go of my marriage and know that my identity and value extended beyond the life I knew at the time. My ex-husband and I are amicable to this day.


So letting go is tied to renewal, knowing we can move beyond our perceptions about the life and our identity we are holding now.  Plus we might be surprised by the future.