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Fig. 4.31 In a quadruped, the SFL runs along the underside of the
body, but passes up behind the head. When it contracts, the back
arches in flexion, but the face and eyes stay in contact with the
outside world.
Fig. 4.32 Humans can manage to maintain a postural version of
the startle response, along with its underlying psycho-emotional
state, for many years, until structural or psychological intervention
(A). In some cases, a shortened portion of the SFL is
compensated by a shortening in the SBL (see Fig. 4.27). We are
looking for balanced tone between the tissues of the SFL and SBL
as is approximated in (B), without regard, for the time being, to
whether that tone is high or low. Get balance first, then go for
proper tone. (DVD ref: Body Reading 101)
though breathing, in particular, is restricted by shortening of
the SFL. Easy breathing depends on upward and outward
movement of the ribs, as well as a reciprocal relationship
between the pelvic and respiratory diaphragms. The short-
ened SFL pulls the head forward and down, requiring com-
pensatory tightening in both the back and the front that
restricts rib movement. Shortening in the groin, if the protec-
tive tightness proceeds beyond the rectus abdominis into the
legs, throws off the balance between the respiratory and pelvic
diaphragms, resulting in over-reliance on the front of the dia-
phragm for breathing.
The real, original startle response involves an explosive
exhale; the maintained startle response shows a marked
postural tendency to be stuck on the exhale side of the
breath cycle, which in turn can accompany a trip through
1. Feldenkrais M. Body and mature behavior. New York:
International Universities Press; 1949.
2. Hanna T. Somatics. Novato, CA: Somatics Press; 1968.
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