23 May Are you Breathing Well Enough?
You are one incredible creature. The discoveries we’ve made in the last couple of decades about how humans work are mind-blowing!
For a moment, though, I’d like you to forget what you know about your body: all the illustrations and diagrams on where your lungs are, how your mind looks and what your blood-cells do. Put out of your mind those posters staring down at you in the doctors’ waiting room, the biology class and Google images. Just re-connect with your actual body, right here, in this space in time. When we learn too much about our bodies, without living into them, we tend to disconnect from them.
So, for a moment, let’s bring you back home. Into your skin. Starting with
- Sit in a comfortable position, with your back upright. One way to help correct your posture (sitting or standing), is to imagine that you’re hanging from a string, attached to the crown of your head.
- Now, put one hand on your stomach, just below your ribs, and one on your back, at the same height.
- Inhale for 5 seconds, and exhale for 7, but – when you do – imagine that you’re breathing in towards your hands.
- Repeat this for the rest of the article.
Did you feel your stomach push against your hands when you inhaled? If you didn’t, or only felt it slightly, it’s possible that you’re breathing ineffectively. You see, contrary to the operation-game that many of us played when we were “above 2 years old”, your lungs actually aren’t two flat, funny-shaped pink organs flapping in the front part of your chest; they fill almost the entire volume of your rib-cage.
As adults, we develop a lot of bad habits, all the way from diets, to posture, to breathing. Ideally, you’d want to take deep, solid breaths, with your whole lung: this way you fill every blood-cell with oxygen, and keep our lungs flexible and fresh. When you have enough oxygen, your brain relaxes, and you can engage stressful situations with a serene, controlled energy.
However, many of us – due to stress, and a stack of bad habits, do not breathe with our whole lungs : our breath gets trapped in our shoulders & back. These muscles are actually only supposed to be used during strenuous exercise! Still wondering why you have stiff shoulders at the end of the day? Your breathing may be part of the problem!
If you are a chest-breather, go for professional singing lessons.
“What?! But I’m tone-deaf!” (Actually, you’re not : your brain just needs to re-learn a few things it skipped when you were little.)
Sure, you could go to yoga-class, or attend one of the alternative deep-breathing therapy-sessions, and they may be helpful. But, if you go for professional vocal lessons, you will get out a lot more than merely well-oxygenated blood: You’ll engage your brain on multiple levels, learning amazing new lessons about projection and communication, and have fun doing something creative as well.
Society has turned singing into something only the elite artists are “allowed” to do. Ignore them. Break the modern-day mould, and take the plunge! This is not about becoming the next platinum artist, it’s about engaging an activity that makes you come alive again, and resonate with the tune of the rest of us humans.
Spend some time today growing your awareness of your breathing, and share your experiences & comments with us below.
If you’d like to find out more about vocal coaching, contact us – we’ll put you in touch with the right people.