Breath reflects every aspect of our life, on all levels of being - physical, emotional and spiritual. More than this, if the intent is to participate consciously in the breath experience without control, we can access resources within. Breath lets us know what is needed to come into balance and maintain health. The Experience of Breath, the Middendorf Breath Work, is a unique education toward healing through breath.

For more than 65 years, Prof. Ilse Middendorf of Berlin, Germany developed The Experience of Breath, a somatic work, based on the autonomic mode of breathing. This approach promotes a conscious experience of breath, free from control of the human will.

Breath not only reaches our inner world and moves us, it also connects us to the world outside. Breath that comes and goes on its own creates movements both inward and outward, in an ever-continuing act of filling and emptying, receiving and giving, the masculine and the feminine in a dialogue, searching for balance and growth.

Breath Movement becomes meaningful. Through simple exercises we become aware of breath laws and principles, and use them as a tool to experience and understand breath movements as the source of our creative forces as well as an outlet for their expression. The Self becomes embodied through the movements and gestures that are initiated by breath. We enter a self-analytical process of growth and development. Body, soul, and spirit can be experienced as one.

Every single breath cycle actualizes past, present and perspective of our being. By learning to listen to our breath we connect with a source that can help to direct and lead us through an appropriate process of integration. Breath becomes our teacher and healer.


Since its inception, this artistic form of breathing education, developed by Professor Ilse Middendorf, has achieved international attention for its effectiveness as a somatic healing and growth process. Professor Middendorf began practicing her work in 1935. In 1965 in Berlin, she founded the Institute for the Perceptible Breath (now called The Experience of Breath), which certifies practitioners in the Middendorf Breathwork.

This work has seen a pattern of steady growth, so there are now several Middendorf schools in Europe. Each year these schools graduate between seventy and ninety new practitioners who work in a variety of areas of private practice music and acting schools, clinics for rehabilitation, and psychology, counseling offices, etc..

In 1986, Advanced Seminars of Berkeley, California, a center for Feldenkrais education and other somatic explorations, together with the Berlin Middendorf Breath Institute, sponsored the introduction of Professor Middendorf's work to the United States. After that first workshop, Ilse Middendorf and her close associate, Juerg Roffler, returned each year to conduct workshops and training seminars. In 1989, to support the growing interest in the Middendorf Breathwork, Juerg Roffler, initiated the first training program leading to the certification of Middendorf practitioners in the United States. In 1991 Juerg founded the Middendorf Breath Institute and the first group of certified practitioners graduated in April, 1992. The newly formatted 3 block Professional Training Program is offered in the Bay Area and New York City. The Berlin and Berkeley Institutes use the same curriculum for the certification and training program.

In 1995, The Breath Center of San Francisco (BCSF) was founded as a non-profit organization for the advancement of the Middendorf Breathwork. The Middendorf Breath Institute and BCSF are closely related.

The Professional Training and Certification Program is approved by the California Council for Private Post-secondary and Vocational Education. The Institute is authorized to be a Continuing Education Provider for Nurses, MFCC's, and Social Workers.


The Middendorf Training Program is designed for professionals working in the somatic, psychological, artistic, or educational fields, or for persons who want to further their own personal growth. Experience working with groups is desirable.


Participants must be in good physical and mental health, and able to take responsibility for any influence the program may have in those areas.

Participants must provide proof of completion of basic knowledge of anatomy. If the anatomy requirement is not fulfilled before entering the third block of the training (full certification), students take a course in anatomy from Faith Hornbacher, staff member of the U.S. Middendorf Breath Institute, Berkeley.


JUERG ROFFLER, Director of the Middendorf Institute for Breathexperience, is a certified Middendorf practitioner and former instructor at the Berlin Institute for the Perceptible Breath (The Experience of Breath). He has more than twenty five years of training and experience in breath therapy, body work, and psychotherapy based in humanistic psychology. Juerg conducts workshops throughout the United States and Europe. Since founding the Middendorf Breath Institute as an independent educational institute, he also maintains an active relationship with the Berlin Institute. Juerg teaches most of the segments in the 3 block training programs.


MARGOT BIESTMAN is a certified practitioner of Middendorf Breathwork with a private practice in Sausalito and The Sea Ranch. She is also an author and artist, and teaches classes in Creative Living. She has more than 30 years of experience in education with people from ages 3-93. Margot is a member of the teaching staff of the Middendorf Institute for Breathexperience.

FAITH HORNBACHER is a certified practitioner of Middendorf Breathwork, with a private practice in Palo Alto. She is also a certified practitioner of Aston-Patterning and has been in practice for 25 years. She is an artist and has illustrated books in the field of health education. Faith is a member of the teaching staff of the Middendorf Institute for Breathexperience, and teaches a course in anatomy.

NELL SMYTH is a certified practitioner of Middendorf Breath work and a member of the teaching staff of the Middendorf Institute in Berkeley. She works both in Europe and the States and has particular expertise in working with children and teachers in a variety of settings. Her book The Breathing Circle is being published by Hawthorn Press and will be available in early 2006. She is currently writing her next book on breath and theater arts as integrative in school curricula.


Over the course of each training program, other certified Middendorf teachers from Europe and the United States, will visit and assist in the training.


To become a trainer of a Middendorf Training Program independent of the Middendorf Institute for Breathexperience, the requirements are to: 1) actively practice Middendorf Breathwork for seven years after certification; 2) participate in at least three post-graduate training courses in a period of five years; 3) become an assistant teacher in a training program for at least three years; 4) demonstrate depth of understanding; and 5) attain authorization from Ilse Middendorf and Juerg Roffler.



All three blocks together include 14 segments and can be taken spread over a three + year period.  Each segment lasts twelve days, including a two-day break in the middle of the segment.  A total of 8 or 12 individual sessions with a certified Middendorf practitioner are included per block as a part of the program. These are to be spaced evenly over the course of the program block. Participants will receive two sessions between each segment. Full attendance in all 14 segments (all three blocks) is required, as part of the fulfillment for full certification. Full attendance in the first 8 segments (blocks I and II) is required as part of the fulfillment to receive Teaching Authorization for certification.

The Training Program consists of 3 blocks:

Block I: Personal Growth, 1 year, 4 segments:

Block II: Teaching Authorization, 1 year, 4 segments:

Block III: Full Certification, 1+ year, 6 segments

For actual dates of Program Blocks see: or



Days 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11 and 12: 9:30am-1:00pm and 3:00-4:30pm
Days 3 and 10: 9:30am-1:00pm
Days 6 and 7: no class



Tuition for the training is $975.00 per segment. This includes both the instruction provided during the ten days of class and two individual sessions. A one-time, non-refundable administrative fee of $75.00 is due with your application. Payment for each segment is due five days before the beginning of the segment. A certification fee of $300.00 is due with tuition for Segment XIV, the last segment of Block III.

Cost for European Program see:


Grossgoerschenstrasse 40,
D-10827 Berlin (am Kleistpark)
(030) 462 3719


Middendorf Institute for Breathexperience
801 Camelia Street, Suite C
USA-Berkeley, California, 94710-1459
(510) 981-1710