MDH Breathing Coordination

The quality of our breathing influences the quality of life and our ability to fulfil our potential in all our activities. Whether or not we are in good health, the way we breathe is fundamental to improved wellbeing.

Through observing the breathing problems of numerous people, Carl Stough was able to establish the principles of what he called ‘Breathing Coordination’. He developed a way of bringing the various muscles involved in breathing into simultaneous and optimal functioning.

His aim through this work was to amplify and harmonise the movements of the diaphragm and to restore respiratory function completely. In doing this, he influenced not only the functioning of the respiratory system but that of the whole person, by making possible an improved delivery of oxygen throughout the body and bringing the nervous system into a state conducive to wellbeing.

Stough’s initial work in American military hospitals with sufferers from emphysema and COPD brought greater improvements than anything hitherto thought medically possible. Later, Stough coached the American track and field athletes for the 1968 Olympics which took place at high altitude in Mexico City.

In more recent times, Breathing Coordination has been indispensable to numerous musicians, actors, lecturers and singers amongst others – including Dolly Parton and many soloists of the Metropolitan Opera.

Lynn Martin was Carl Stough’s personal assistant in New York for 25 years, during which time she also studied Functional Anatomy and Ideokinesis intensively. Through her detailed understanding of our anatomical functioning on all levels, she was able to analyse the work that Stough was doing and to make it methodical and reproducible. When Robin de Haas became one of her students in New York, he persuaded her that this work needed to be transmitted to a future generation of practitioners, and so set about developing the practitioner training courses which have brought MDH Breathing Coordination to its present-day maturity.

The breathing mechanism requires refined and specific attention which calls for individual care and coaching. Sessions are therefore always one-to-one. An MDH Breathing Coordination session lasts 60 to 90 minutes and helps each client to maintain and develop an optimal efficiency of breathing for peak performance and also for daily life. This very precise work gives us more stamina, richness and suppleness in the voice, as well as a sense of effortlessness in the breathing mechanism.

With regular sessions, this work becomes integrated into the nervous system. Given time, the renewal of air in the lungs happens with much greater ease and efficiency.
Breathing coordination has been referred to as ‘life-changing’ and ‘a source of serenity and efficiency’ by many of the people using it.


The process of MDH Breathing Coordination is a collaboration between practitioner and client. Someone who is fragile or very unwell may only have the strength to listen, consent to the work and be attentive to its effects, while I may ask a healthy person to participate much more fully in the procedures that were developed by Carl Stough, and transmitted to me by Lynn Martin and Robin de Haas.

The first part of any session is a necessary work of tension reduction, during which I can evaluate what is happening physically in relation to your breathing. Structures in the body need to be released from muscular holding-patterns before I can guide them into their intended and coordinated movements. For much of the session you will usually be lying on a therapy table or couch, fully clothed. Short skirts are best avoided, but I always keep a ‘modesty blanket’ available! After tension reduction we can start to coax the breathing muscles into their proper interaction and the bony structures into their optimal movement. We learn to exhale unwanted residual breath that is growing stale in the lungs, and to find flexibility and length in the ribcage as the diaphragm glides more smoothly and travels further. The voice is brought into play as a vital stimulus to the movement of the diaphragm, and voice work in each session will receive the further emphasis that corresponds to your particular needs. As vocal tone is such an important litmus of good breathing and health, we will almost always be using our voices together at some stage in a session.

It is an explicit tenet of MDH Breathing Coordination to reduce stress and anxiety-responses in each client. I will always use positive language and affirm your improving skill. Every client – including you - should be made certain that they are sincerely valued, and that their wellbeing and their better health is my sole focus for the entire duration of the session. Only in a place of safety can the tension that hampers our breathing be released and a better, smoother, happier experience of breath be instilled.