Breema: The Dance of Existence by Susan Mankowski

When I started studying Breema, I was captivated by the unusual yet totally natural way of moving with the whole body, both in the Self-Breema (individual) exercises and in the bodywork (two-person) sequences.

Having first trained as a dancer,  I felt constrained by the almost exclusive use of my arms, hands, and fingers while working in massage for several decades. I stood alongside massage tables and leaned forward and over them, often reaching in uncomfortable ways. That’s why I immediately said “Yes!” to the total body participation that is intrinsic to doing every Breema sequence and Self-Breeema exercise.

The bodywork is practiced on a padded floor and uses the whole body.  Both the hands and feet are used as tools for transferring weight. The recipient is supported with my arms, legs, insteps, or entire torso throughout a fluid sequence of movements.

To me the bodywork was a holistic dance in which I was able to let go of restrictive, habitual ways of applying therapy I used with massage clients. Doing Breema with clients instead introduced to me the joy of experiencing life in my own body!

Along with this new way of moving, came a new way of thinking and feeling, thanks to Breema’s practical guidelines: The Nine Principles of Harmony. These principles can be directly experienced through the bodywork by both the giver and receiver. As I used the principle of Mutual Support in my professional practice and in daily life, I learned to consider not only “how is the other person?” but also “how am I?” The principles helped me to study myself in relation to my conditioned attitudes and patterns of behavior.  The freedom of seeing new choices gave me new ways to approach relating to myself and all of life.

Each principle is a guideline that supports my body, mind, and feelings to function together in the moment. When I experience that, I experience myself in harmony. Body, mind, and feelings working together in unity  become the foundation for being present.

Breema opened me up to a bigger picture, and helped me learn how to move and dance through the events, disturbances, and dramas that daily life brings. More and more, I can come to a unified place within myself and really experience being alive,.

I hope you can join us for Dance Week and discover the supportive and nourishing practice of Breema – the Art of Being Present  – first hand!

Susan Mankowski is a staff instructor at the Breema Center in Oakland, California.

A week of free classes and mini-sessions will be offered for Bay Area DanceWeek at the Breema Center in Oakland, CA beginning April 27 through May 4. For more information on this event visit

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