Breath is a basis of our lives. No breath – no life. If we don’t breathe well, our brains and tissues don’t get enough energy to function properly. Breath brings space and release to our bodies, new energy and awakes our mental awareness. Additionally, due to breathing muscle diaphragm, breathing supports function of the core – a center of our body which enables us to keep our posture vertical and flexible.
Breath is happening automatically in our bodies, still it is life process reacting on everything that happen inside and around you. Breath mirrors our emotions, stress and fear as well as relaxed state and satisfaction.If we don’t feel well, our way of breathing will reveal it. Contrary, we can influence our feelings by breathing coordination. We can influence our state by breath. Therefore it is crucial to be aware of our breathing and learn to breathe properly.
Much tension from instrumental playing comes together with shallow breathing or even stoping the breath within hard spots. If we focus on our breath more we benefit by more energy income, effective release of tension, coping with stress… Many topics bound with instrumental playing! To start being aware of our way of breathing, we first need to tune to it! Try following exercise:
Tune to breath.
Lie down on your back comfortably and breathe as you are used to. Try to focen on following questions. Do not change anything for now, just try to be aware! For every question, take couple of inhales and exhales…
- Where do you breathe? Where do you feel inhaling and exhaling? Do you breathe just under the neck or does the air goes to whole lungs and even the stomach?
- Is the inhaling and exhaling of the same length? If not, which one is longer?
- Are there any places within your body, where you feel no breath? Do you feel some places to be released?
- Be aware of the difference of breath perception with eyes open and closed.
This exercise should help you concentrate on breathing. I suggest you include it in your practice plan, at the beginning, to start up the body mind connection awareness, which is crucial for playing the instrument. If you train this exercise you will be able to detect more and more the spots in compositions where you shallow the breath and get in tension… Now try couple of simple exercises to deepen your breath and coordinate it:
Lie down on your back and bend your knees. Put your palms on stomach. Be careful! Your shoulders shall be released, such as your arms, face and the rest of the body. Your palms don’t push against the stomach! Breathe comfortably and focus on to bring the breath to your diaphragm, your stomach area. Take your time until you get the breath to this area and breathe comfortably. Then you can finish or continue to the next exercise:
Lengthening the breath.
Start counting your breath to beats. Your breath at the start is “one” beat. Take couple of inhales and exhales and lengthen the breath to two beats. After some time, lengthen again. You can stop any time – try to go to five beats. Take your time at every level. If you feel too overwhelmed by oxygen, stop training.
Getting fresh air!
You need fresh air and within this time of stress and epidemic risks even more! next time, when you go for a walk, find calm, clean space, preferably in greenery, and give yourself a time to focus on your breath! This exercise comes from yoga:
Stop up one nostril by finger and breath just with other nostril – inhale and exhale just with the nostril, no mouth! Take at least seven breathes. Try to lengthen your breathing as you will feel the free air coming into your cavity. Do not push your breath too much! Be smooth. Then change the nostrils and do the sam eon the other site. After that, breath with both your nostrils and feel the difference!
In the next article, I will provide you tips how to release body tension from instrumental playing by your breath!