Eurythmy Therapy for Dyspnea

Ingrid Hermansen, Barbara Trapp

Last update: 21.02.2019

When first meeting a patient, the therapist adopts a free and open attitude and facilitates communication by asking simple, empathetic questions about the patient’s condition. Physical touch, such as stroking the person’s hand, can have a calming effect. It also sometimes helps to explain things, for example, that shortness of breath can be experienced even when there is sufficient oxygen or that breathing can be enhanced by movements of the whole body, and this in turn stimulates other areas throughout the body. Breathing is more than pulmonary respiration. It occurs throughout the entire organism in tissue breathing, with respiratory processes in every cell. Breathing involves the whole person—it is related to the person’s life processes and connects to soul and spirit. Accordingly, the animated movements of eurythmy therapy help free the soul organization from tension and experienced breathlessness, strengthen the etheric organization and have a healing effect on the body.

Basic exercises to stimulate breathing

  • "M and L"
    Experience has shown that it is good to start away from the site of the impairment, i.e., not close to the thorax. The sounds "L" and "M" can first be performed with the feet. These movements have a relaxing effect and after some practice the person’s breathing deepens. Take repeated long breaks in order not to overexert the patient under any circumstances.
    Once a first deepening of breathing has been achieved, patients can also perform the "M" with their legs, i.e., move their legs back and forth in opposite directions on the bed. One leg lies flat on the mattress, the other is standing on it. As the standing leg goes down slowly as if through warm sand, the lying leg slowly rises up. Again, this should only be done briefly, in order not to demand too large an effort. "M" is spoken intensively while performing the movement. This sound and the movement often have an immediate calming and breath-deepening effect. "L" strengthens the life processes in breathing, "M" harmonizes breathing, drawing the person into their middle region and creating a state of balance between the forces.

  • Contraction and expansion
    The hands are gently closed (contraction) and opened (expansion). This exercise has a releasing and calming effect on breathing.

  • Vocalized eurythmy therapy
    The terms ‘inspiration’ and ‘expiration’ refer to breathing on a spiritual level, which goes beyond the physical exchange of gases and the life processes sustained by breathing. An ensouled spiritual being connects with its body during inhalation. It lets go again with exhalation. The first and last breath in a person’s life are the great archetypes for the lesser reflections of inspiration and expiration in the cyclical breathing process. Inhaling is connected with the vowels
  • "A – E – I"
    Exhaling is connected with the vowels
  • "I – O – U".

These exercises can be brought into a rhythmic sequence (iamb, trochee, hexameter, anapest). This enables them to have an additional healing effect on the rhythmic system.

Eurythmy therapy exercises may also be performed using very small movements, so that even weak patients can do them. If necessary, the therapist can provide support.

Research news

New peer-review instrument for Eurythmy Therapy validated 
Eurythmy Therapy (ET) is an anthroposophic movement therapy. In a validation study the new peer-review instrument "Anthroposophic Artistic Movement Assessment for Eurythmy Therapy (AART-ASSESS-EuMove)" was tested. Items with sufficient interrater reliability formed the following subscales: mindfulness in movement, motor skills and walking pattern. The AART-ASSESS-EuMove showed sufficient internal consistency and correlates with patient-reported outcome. The new instrument broadens methodological options of questionnaire validation and to understanding the ET. The article is published open access:

Further information on Anthroposophic Medicine