Breathing for movement practitioners

Breathing for movement practitioners

What will this article be about?

This will be a concise and practical piece which will address 9 introductory short-term manipulations of breathing. They will involve methods to shift or support your psychological state, your performance, or emotional condition, while resolving physical tasks.

The long-term adaptations and effects that a well-structured breathing plan would produce will be addressed in a separate article in the future.

Why is breathing so important?

First of all it is a hybrid function of the Nervous System. That is, it can both be volitional or automatic.

From this understanding we can deduct three important facts: it can be used as a compass to observe the directions of our internal state, a tool to change our deep physiology, and as a loyal companion to have by our side in any condition.

Three families of breathing:

Here follow three families of breathing methods which can easily be implemented in recurrent movement scenarios:

  1. The factotum techniques are purposeful and varied. They can be useful to produce defensive mechanisms to outside forces acting on the body, direct focus, give a boost in energy and so forth. They evoke or facilitate a quality or state.

    2. The
    downregulating techniques are calming and grounding. They help to shift the Nervous System from an overactive state to a more composed and serene state; rebalancing it when it becomes excessively stressed.

    3. The
    intuitive techniques are loose and open. They should be implied when the complexity movement is so high that breathing becomes fluid and cannot follow a preconceived scheme.

Let’s get into them in more details:

Factotum techniques


Inhale to 70% full, hold while you execute the motion, exhale when the intensity decreases. Use the air in the lungs as an uncompressible armor to resist shear and compressive forces.

When to use: managing a heavy load, taking a strong impact, to resist direct pressure to the torso.

Mechanism leveraged: Valsalva like maneuver.


Inhale in 3”, exhale in 3”. This is a useful technique to focus the mind and not allow it to wonder on intense emerging thoughts, feelings, emotions.

When to use: as anti-distraction tool during easy long tasks, or as “emotional grounding” in tough fear evoking settings.

Mechanism leveraged: directing awareness to a neutral rhythmical phenomenon.


Inhale in 3”, exhale in 2”. Creating a slightly longer inhale facilitates a more active, invigorating, and brisk state.

When to use: to align the mind and ignite some good fire especially during aerobic tasks.

Mechanism leveraged: by inhaling more than exhaling the heart progressively goes a bit faster, facilitating the predominance of the sympathetic nervous system. This respiratory sinus arrhythmia matches pulmonary blood flow to lung inflation and allows to maintain an appropriate diffusion gradient for oxygen in the lungs.

Downregulating techniques

Exhale focus

Inhale in 5” exhale in 6”. The slow inhale and the longer exhale will facilitate the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting coherence between the heart and the breath. Couple the outbreath with an active relaxation of the unnecessary muscular tone. This means maintain the structure and shape of the body but let go of all parasite tensions. With every subsequent breath, repeat this process and gently double the intensity every time.

When to use: essential resource when you need to rebalance and calm down: while exposing to unknown situations, in precarious scenarios, in case of emotional stress emerging from the session: frustration, anger, fear. This should be one of the breathings you imply in most of your practices.

Mechanism leveraged: The long exhale creates a gentle pressure to the torso and signals to the medulla to slow down the heart and respiratory rate. Also this long breath introduces more CO2 in the blood allowing for a better Oxygenation of the blood, calming the system even further.

Deliberate yawn

Slow inhale (like an Ujjayi breath with an open mouth), allow the yawn to come, ride it, then exhale slowly. Repeat for 5-10 times, until relaxation starts to kick in.

When to do it: when you can be in a somewhat calm and composed setting during a hard expedition into the elements, such as cold, heat, height, deep into the earth (confined spaces) and so forth.

Mechanism leveraged: invoking the yawn reflex to induce a more relaxed state.


Inhale in 5”, exhale humming in 10”. Produce a composed and continuous mmmmm sound all throughout the exhale.

When to do it: Same as per the exhale focus. This is a direct add on to it.

Mechanism leveraged: Vibrating the vocal chords during the exhale will increase vagal tone, allowing you to relax faster right after the acute stress bout. It will also release more nitric oxide from the nose all throughout the body. This powerful vasodilator increases blood flow and lowers blood pressure

Intuitive techniques 


Inhale in eccentric, exhale in concentric. Allow the natural expansion and compression of the body to couple to each breath waves.

When to use: during cyclical and repeated exercises. The classic “reps and sets” style trainings.

Mechanism leveraged: Following the mechanical action of the torso to take air in or push it out.


Let the breath follow the movement. Be aware of it and use it in a harmonious dance with the rest of the body. Observe how it is regulated and how it is expressed.

When to use: during the production of complex movements.

Mechanism leveraged: stepping aside and allowing the self-regulating mechanisms of the body to respond to the action-perception connections to the surroundings.


Use breathing to direct your motions. The inhale will facilitate open wide gestures, whereas the exhale will promote quick and sharp actions.

When to use: same as above.

Mechanism leveraged: using actively the fiery images of the inhalation to produce powerful motions and the light exhalation to induce fast and clear trajectories.

Here’s the associated video. Comment below it for further clarifications or contact me at

Note. The numbers used are here for simplicity however, what should be taken in consideration is your current state: Co2 tolerance, Vo2 max, max breath hold capacity, history of practice, stress state, hygiene and strength of your respiratory structure, the depth of your breath and so on… These parameters can be improved through specific long term breathwork. This will be addressed in a different article.

Two final important tips:

1. Breath deep from the belly first. If you need more air, fill up also the chest, if you need even more air fill up the clavicular area. Follow this order, as often as you can.

  1. Always breathe from the nose unless you are really close to exertion, then go to mouth breathing. However, revert to nose breathing as soon as possible.

    Wish you large inhales and calm exhales everyone. Practice on!

Until next time,

Irreducibility of movement fields

Irreducibility of movement fields

Nowadays’ tendency for simplification, deconstruction, and decomposition of a totality into smaller fragments led us to one fundamentally incorrect axiom: studying a piece of a totality will give us information about the behavior of the whole. 

This is false because there is a limit to the amount of breakdown one can perform on a global part before it changes into something else.

“take table salt, no matter how hard you look, you will not find the yellow-green of the chlorine or the silver of the sodium; if you reduce the salt any further, back to the component elements, you will lose all of the qualities of the salt.” (1) 

In the body-mind continuum there are specific emerging adaptations coming from the confrontation with a motor problem that simply will not happen, unless one is exposed to it. If this is overlooked a lot of work might be wasted because of an incorrect understanding, regardless of the quality of the process involved.

I argue the reversible vision that perceives climbers “those with a strong grip”, athletes “those with quick legs”, acrobats “those with flexible backs”, fighter “those with sharp reflexes” and therefore proceeds to train only those qualities in isolation with the promise of making people climbers, athletes, acrobats, fighters one day …is very much delusional and fitnesscentric.

The work can and should be started immediately.

In fact, these are non-reversible povs. Athletes have quick legs because of what they do, but not necessarily having quick legs will make you an athlete.

The very idea of “fundamental capacities” is plain wrong.

For example, the indication that one should at least be able to do five pull ups before he / she can climb is absurd to say the least. And how do I know this for certain? Because if you go to a climbing gym, you can see beginners go at the full activity, regardless of the conditions of their capacity. The field is made of multiple strata: pattern recognition, memory, mental rotation, limbs and torso coordination, balance, foot placement, weight shifting capacity, forces redistribution …forget about pulling strength alone.

I remember there was a debate a few years back on whether a person could start plyometrics safely from scratch or if at least a bodyweight squat was necessary (there was a large ongoing case study on this). Well …just go light and try, won’t you? We are not talking about the validation of a dangerous medicine. We do not need useless studies. Evidence based practice should always be accompanied by practice based evidence and should help mature interesting and relevant questions. Not minor onanistic matters. My experience is that in this instance a person can be taught to bounce, hop, jump, sissonne, assemble, develop a sharp footwork and so on… without having even ever seen a barbell from miles away. On top of this, I saw very few people get injured in the process.

In the field of movement education, we can do better than having people start their journey doing strength work for 3 years before actually diving into the core of their studies. And that is exploring movement principles through dedicated platforms and situations, where dynamic skills are studied in their minimal configuration of the needs imposed on demand intrinsically present in every field.

The aspects that need to be taken into account are four:

1. Motor control, regulation and coordination

The intricacies, the concertation, the lines of trajectories of the various body parts, the coordinative abilities needed, and the fine modulation of tension that are fundamental to producing quality outcomes.

2. Specificity of the structural phase

The capacity of the body to behave like different materials depends on environmental demands.

In fact, it can: tense like an elastic band when quickly displacing in space, it can tighten in accurate concertation to contract and expand in volume, it can coordinate to produce finely controlled reversible actions, it can turn rock solid if it needs to anchor you somewhere, it can vibrate to dissipate impact without causing any harm.

Therefore, one should ask the question: which state is needed for the Elastic? Tensile? Soft? Stiff? Colloidal?

The science of soft matter is still in the process of being fully understood yet it appears to be what can best approximate the complexity of the human biological design.

See here I post I made on the matter to better grasp what I am talking about.

3. Specificity of motor qualities

The specific demands in terms of simplified kinematic and kinetics of movement. Listing from the dynamic correspondence criteria from Verkhoshansky and Siff here: the amplitude and direction of movement, The accentuated region of force production, The dynamics of the effort, The rate and time of maximum force production, The regime of muscular work.

I recommend continue the in-depth study on the matter in the book Supertraining (2).

4. Relationship to external conditions

What is the composition of the perception-action dynamics, the time windows, the spatial constraint, the type of surfaces involved, the type of equipment needed and so forth…

Now, to elucidate the matter further I have provided a visual clarification.

Notice in the clip the two scenarios: the first ones (wearing white socks with black textures) are more open situations, and the seconds (wearing black socks with white textures) are platforms for movement investigation, study and refinement.

What separates the two is the degree of risk, the extrinsic difficulty, and the emotional involvement required to dwell in these matters.

This makes them twins on a continuum. The first ones are used to consolidate knowhow, the second ones to expand expertise.

Knowing this, the development of skills will fall into the second setting, moving over time to the first to get strengthened as deeper neural grooves. Despite its counterintuitive nature, capacity build up will not improve one’s proficiency to manage a movement scenario. Everyone thinks more mobility, strength, endurance, power, are needed but this is rarely the case in my observations.

Capacity training should only be added once it is really limiting one’s development, that is, in case of:

– Complete absence of training background (i.e. one can’t hang for 10 seconds)

– In case of rehab (i.e. one can’t move without pain and restrictions in the joints, fascia, muscles etc.)

– Prehab before specific situations (i.e. one isn’t used to inverting and placing the hands on the ground hence the wrists quickly become fatigued).

Or as a cherry on the cake – certainly not base layer, under the eye of movement.

This is because most of the work has to proceed in the direction of complexity that is in a multitude of layers where the limiting factors are widely diffused in the production of movement, such as: cognition (not understanding what to do), proprioception (not understanding where one is in relation to what the task it), motor control (not understanding how to do the task).


The practical observation in the field of Movement led me to believe that the principle of irreducibility applies in every field of practical exploration. Therefore, it is essential to consider the development of motor control and regulation, skill development, and principles investigation, through dedicated platforms of choice.

This differs from the hierarchical fitnesscentric approach that appears to be leading the industry nowadays: considering capacity building at the base of the movement pyramid.
Operating in the beginning the highest possible form of reduction, that is not transforming all into purely mechanical work, but to simpler yet intelligent semi-open scenarios, quasi-complex tasks, movement brainteasers with divergent solutions.

This will facilitate the emergence of understanding, general knowhow, and accelerate the immersion within the field of movement education.

Until next time – wish you to reduce to better comprehend, but don’t let complexity slip from your hands!


1. Solórzano, S., Levin, S., & Berkowitz, S. Everything moves.

2. Verkhoshansky, Y-, & Siff, M. (2009), Supertraining. Rome: Verkhoshansky SSTM

Movement in water protocol

Movement in water protocol

Water is the most widespread element on earth, and it wouldn’t make sense for a movement practice not to consider that. Here are a few points that I use as foundational in my reasoning to why I wish to have it as part of the projects of my school.

Why movement in water?


It widely responds to the availability principle and makes an immersion into this body of work possible for everyone at any time. Multiple swimming pools are present in most cities on earth, often at low prices. When travelling or on holidays we can end up close to rivers, lakes, sea, ocean and take advantage of those. To not use the opportunity but search for a gym to practice in those occasions is diabolic to say the least: we have to embrace the habit to use what’s there. On top of it the gear needed to get started is minimal: goggles, swimming suit and you are ready to go.

Spring sourcing

Another interesting facet of this material is that it addresses our root environment. Knowing that our own form and structure has heritages in those realms is very important not only “romantically” but practically. From an evolutionary perspective in fact, no part of us is ever cancelled but rather, it gets specialized, refined, and differentiated. So, both on the level of sensory intake and motor control there is a lot to take there. It allows us to apply and cross test qualities like sequencing movements to produce thrusts and drives, simultaneous concertation of body parts to float and turn, continuous coordination to ensure smooth slipping through the water, leveraging of hard-wired reflexes to achieve deep states of relaxation and nervous system rebalance. And the same systems are used in a variety of other settings.

Accountability and progress

Unless you learn how to sense it right, scoop it correctly, lengthen through it, develop your skills in accordance with it, water will simply sink you down as it would with solid rock: I like that accountability! Risk is the best technology for learning. Being always too safe leads to minimal progress. These controllable threats are important mediums that allow us to deal with the various faces of fear, and therefore help us understand how to manage it when it comes visit our life: making it not an unsurmountable problem but a necessary hurdle to overcome with calm understanding. Fear from oxygen deprivation in particular is a big one: both within the single session and long term. It continues to hunt us throughout our life even if many are unaware of it. Many times, undifferentiated forms of anxiety and distress emerge from low levels of CO2 tolerance, overly tuned sympathetic nervous system and wrong breathing mechanics – all this is addressed in progressive underwater immersions. On the other hand, fear of falling in acrobatics maneuvers can be addressed more easily than on the ground, since the consequences of failing a small dive are lower than on a hard surface.


We spend most of our days anchored to the ground. That means that a lot of whole-body movements are greatly limited in terms of degrees of freedom. It is possible to take off and leap in the air, but gravity places an intense constraint and airtime is always minimal. Hence complex stochastic motions and combinations of rotations on various planes are limited.
This problem is nonexistent in water, since it’s a denser fluid we can just float in it and study all our possible changes of configurations as if we were in absence of external forces acting on us. The variety of skills learned, the better retuned vestibular system, the understanding of proprioception in inverted positions will all transfer to land. At the end of the day, the settings may change, but you are always with yourself. So do things right and smartly and you will be able to continue your same investigation and growth in different paths of the same forest.

Now, let’s get to practice. 

Water protocol 1



A. Dives x 10 dives each

A1. Forward
A2. Sideways
A3. Backwards 

Goal. Taking off the standing variation. Focus on being able to enter the water without losing your shape – don’t splash and thrash. 

B. Floating drills x 1-2 minutes x 3 macro sets / rest 1 minute after each round

B1. Scissors
B2. Straddles
B3. Egg beater

Goal. Working with 2 minutes each without the use of the arms. 

C. Navigation styles x 20-40 strokes per type / rest 1.5 min after each round

C1. Crocodile arms
C2. Crocodile legs
C3. Crocodile style

C4. Dolphin arms
C5. Dolphin legs
C6. Dolphin style

Goal. Demonstrate proficiency in the crocodile and dolphin variation, clear thrust, and recovery phase. Working with 40 reps totals each and at least 10 in each subset.

See down here for a visual reference of the exercises:

That, it for today. Wish you to float in your days smart as a dolphin and wise as a whale!

Until next time,



Kip protocol 1

Kip protocol 1

A kip is a quick wave-like impulse that utilizes the elastic response of the fascia to generate a sudden acceleration in the body. In detail, it is produced by a concert of actions that occur in fast succession, and involve a kick, followed by a change of the convex/concave shape of the torso. If the motion is performed correctly the body is pulled up as per an invisible sling in the direction of the chosen trajectory of motion.

Notice: the stretch alone will not produce any elastic return, however, if the elongation happens against the firm resistance of the active components of the tissues, then a stretch shortening cycle will be produced and the shape recoiled. 

The nervous system has a certain degree of resistance to this mechanism and as it senses a strong stretch it will inhibit action. The only way around this problem is to practice consistently on the edge of your elastic capacities. No “strength or mobility training” will get you there alone. Specific time should be allocated in nurturing this capability of the body.

Since kips are at the base of any acrobatic manoeuvre, here’s a protocol to get you started:

Kip protocol

Manna kip

Dive back into a manna, pushing your hips as high as possible in line with the shoulders or beyond. Use the elastic response of the rear fascia, running behind the stretched back to the hyperextended arms to bounce you forward. Land in a reverse hinge and in control. 

Before going for the full variation make sure these two are addressed, otherwise, start here: 

Regression 1 (easier): Table to sissy up
Regression 2 (harder): Manna kip to table to sissy up

Goal. Showing correct chambering of the legs over the vertical hyperextended arms, sharp slingshot, and light exit in a reverse hinge.

B. Handstand back entry kip 

Gather your legs to the chest as you roll on your back, then explode upwards into a handstand. Use the coiling-uncoiling of the back fascia to push you upwards and careful not to distort the shape as you push yourself up. Maintain a semi vertical and clear trajectory. Before going for the full variation make sure these two are addressed, otherwise, start here: 

Regression 1 (easier): headstand to handstand kip
Regression 2 (harder): back roll to handstand 

Goal. Reach out to the handstand with a sharp trajectory and clean gestures. 

C. Side Roundoff

Perform a side cartwheel. As you are 1/3 in the motion, load the inner slings of your back leg, the side of the torso and slightly bend your arms. Release the spring upwards in a semicircular trajectory. Land with both feet together and in control. Before going for the full variation make sure these two are addressed, otherwise, start here: 

Regression 1 (easier): Cartwheel quick side raise
Regression 2 (harder): Cartwheel double hop

Goal. Show clear understanding of the side kip mechanics, and hip to head catenary behavior.

D. Lying kip

Gather your legs to the chest as you roll on your back, then explode upwards into an arch. Quickly gather yourself back together as you maintain a lengthening sensation across the system. The concave to convex motion is what makes the magic. Before going for the full variation make sure these two are addressed, otherwise, start here:  

Regression 1 (easier): Lying to bridge to standing
Regression 2 (harder): Lying kip to squat – one arm assist

Goal. Perform the kip up with trained explosive expertise and reach a standing posture without ever closing the hips once opened.

E. Handstand kip 

Kick up into a handstand. From there arch your back and load your front fascial line. To do so, it is not enough to stretch it, but the elongation should be resisted with a strong contraction. Suddenly release the sling explosively to then shoot yourself back towards a standing position. Notice how the chance between convex to concave is the engine of the motion and there is no axial kicking involved in it.

Before going for the full variation make sure these two are addressed, otherwise, start here: 

Regression 1 (easier): Push up kip
egression 2 (harder):
Worm kip

Goal. Replace the hands with the feet (or beyond) in every repetition.

Here’s the visual references to the exercises:

That, it for today. Wish you elasticity in choices, body and life!

Until next time,


Bars – hanging & brachiation protocol

Bars – hanging & brachiation protocol

Today we will dive into a few ideas of more advanced hanging and brachiations.

Before we dive in, here’s a few clarifications:

1. These types of suspensions, where various parts of the body are used, are useful to design a wider base of work out of which one can then create riddles to availabilities in the body. On top of it, like the single pole and walls material, they increase grappling strength and facilitate the use of force not culminating nor originating from the very end of the extremities.

  1. The term ricochetal means to produce a subsequent series of hops and it is used to describe the first types of brachiation shown in the program. The second type, instead, are of the continuous contact family and do not include any airtime. 

    Now onwards with the protocol:

A1. Bilateral ricochetal wriggle
A2. Bilateral ricochetal reverse thrust

A1-A2 x 5-15 sec x 2 sets each side. Note. It can be done stationary if one has little space.

Goal. Working x 15 sec each set and with good coordination dynamics of the motions.

B. The guillotine pull up x 2-6 consecutive reps (alternating sides) x 3 sets.

Regression. it can be done with two arms together in a supinated grip, without ever releasing the bar.

Goal. Working with a 6×3 scheme

C. The Ateles routine

C1. One arm cubital hang
C2. One arm armpit hang
C3. One leg popliteus hang
C4. One arm yaniro hang

Perform C1-C4 in a sequence without ever coming down of the bar x 3-5 sets holding each position for 3-6 seconds. 3’ rest.

Goal. Working with 5 sets x 6 secs hold each position.

D1. Brachiation back cross
D2. Brachiation front cross

D1/D2 x 12 reps x 3 sets. Rest as needed.

Goal. Working with 12 reps with a correct coordination.

E. Lemniscate inside switch x 3-6 reps x 3 sets

Goal. Working with 6 reps and with a correct coordination.

Here’s the visual references to the exercises:

That’s it for today’s earth day! Enjoy its fruits and the vast interactions, take good care of you and of your surrounding environment – we are one, and wouldn’t be here without it.

Until next time,