I just figured out this week that the new things I am doing are all reliant on breathing, and so each activity dovetails with the other, and helps me to understand the others. Of course, every living thing we do relies on breathing because if we don't breathe, we die, or at least faint. That's not what I mean. I mean that awareness of breathing and working with breath is the key, in each new thing I am doing, to doing it well.
Singing - That's not so new now. I have been in a choir for almost 3 years. Breathing is everything in singing. My music charts are marked up with notes to myself about where to breathe, and where not to breathe. I have learned to prepare with a good uptake at just the right moment, to refresh my sound with a quick lift between phrases, and to stagger breathe alongside other singers in order to produce a smooth, clear, long, sustained note or phrase. When I get it right, it feels like floating or flying when I sing. When I don't get it right, I start over again and practice, practice, practice. Breathing in singing is not just getting air in. It's also how you release it, the shape of your face while you make sound, where in your face and throat the breath comes from, your control of the flow. Our choir leader asks us to conduct ourselves with our hands to stimulate just the kind of letting out of breath that we are going for. Breath is everything in singing.
Running - I am 6 weeks into my Sun Run training, and I have to say running is still mostly not fun. I am panting and pushing and trying to keep going when my feet feel like lead blocks. I know, from remembering running many years ago, that it's worth the work to get to where it will feel good, really good. On Sunday I notched up my running according to the training schedule I got from my Sun Run Clinic. I ran longer intervals and more of them. To help myself not talk myself out of completing the task, I focused on one aspect of my body running with each interval: spine, shoulders, face, feet (emphasizing light feet, light feet), hands, core, and of course, breath. I have noticed before that my stride and pace synchronize with my breathing, so I tried a chicken and egg experiment. Which was leading? the feet or the breath? Turns out that it feels difficult and unnatural to change the pace and stride length, and ask the breath to follow. On the other hand, it felt easy and natural to adjust the breath and let the feet follow. That was my big "Eureka" on that run. And guess what? I got through eight 5-minute running intervals, with one minute walk breaks in between, and I ran all the way from Rocky Point, a little past Old Orchard on Alderside, and back again. I had that really good feeling for the final five minutes of the run, but I think it was because I knew that I did it, and I could stop soon.
Yoga - This is my newest new thing, and it is totally about breathing. Every pose and every transition is governed by breathing, and there are breathing exercises. Breathing also guides the mind away from distracting thoughts and back to the moment, to the body and the movement and the pose and the sensation. It's every bit as important as the shape of the body in the pose.
The overlap is that learning how to breathe for singing makes running and yoga breathing easier. Running breathing makes singing and yoga easier. Yoga breathing makes singing and running easier, and brings peace. All of these new things I am doing to be peaceful, mindful, find joy from within my own self. It all comes down to breathing every time.
question: when did you last notice your breath?
mompoet - breathing in all the good that I can find