rockford illinois entertainment guide
Date: 09/08/2005
Take a Deep Breath...
by Tamara Scott-Bogard

Before we can even walk or talk, we know how to breathe efficiently and effectively.  The irony is that as we get older we lose this important skill, casting it aside like many things we deem unimportant.  The fact is that if we were able to recreate or never lose that ability we were born with, we would be able to breathe easier, have more energy and carry less stress in our already stress packed lives. 


As adults we have started to breathe primarily from our chests.  This encourages shallow, quick breathing instead of the deep slow breathing we practiced naturally when we were young.  Just a couple quick tips can keep you breathing easy and the results will show an increased endurance and a sense of well being. 


Breathing from your belly allows the diaphragm to move down and gives the lungs space to expand.  On your exhale, the stomach naturally falls and pushes all of the air out of the lungs.  The next inhale comes naturally as you have created a vacuum that fills the lungs with air again. 


Practice your breathing by lying on your back.  Place one hand on your chest and one on your belly.  As you inhale, allow your belly to expand and rise.  Your chest should fall as your abdominal area rises.  On your exhale allow the chest to rise and the belly to fall.  Notice how this creates a wave in your torso.  Practice this idea for 10 breaths.  At this point you may feel as if you will never be able to change your breathing, but with practice, one day you will notice it has become your habit.  


Breathing correctly may result in increased endurance onstage.  When you breathe from your abdomen, you do a much better job of delivering oxygen to your working muscles and enhancing vocal projection.  This is because you can expand your abdomen much more than your ribcage allows your chest to expand and this means you will be able to accomplish more with less effort.  You also encourage a relaxation response that calms the muscles, breaking the cycle of stress.   


When breathing is shallow and the torso expands from the chest, it actually weakens the pectoral muscles.  In this vicious circle, it becomes increasingly difficult to take a breath in, and in time of stress we may be unconsciously holding our breath. 


In all actuality you have the time to practice this.  Every moment you are breathing.  Or wait; are you holding your breath? 

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