Power of the Breath
to Calm, Energize, Create
“If you don’t own your breathing you don’t own your movement.” - Karel Lewit
The breath is a powerful force in our lives. It has the power to calm us, to energize us, and is a gateway to efficient, flowing movement.
For musicians and performing artists, natural breathing along with the ability to seamlessly manipulate the breath is a key to expressive artistry.
I remember being told to take a bigger breath, to manage my exhalation more efficiently, and of course not be so tense when I played. I took all of those instructions and tried to do them. The keyword here is “tried.” I had no idea how to actually move my air this way or that. I was searching for a penny in a pitch-black room.
The truth is in my attempt to follow the instructions I employed a lot of unnecessary tension to manipulate my breath. The outcome was that sometimes things worked, but often I was left frustrated and discouraged. “Would I ever be able to play the phrase as I imagined?”
Observing others’ breathing left me not knowing where or how to find the breath that I saw and heard in my own body. The excess tension that my effort used made me work harder to stand up, hold up my instrument, move my fingers. Do you see a growing snowball of limitation here?
When I finally understood how to breathe, I began practicing breathing and integrating the understanding of breathing into flute playing, Parkour, running, and flying on the trapeze. Practice allowed me to uncover and cultivate reliable control of the breath and responsiveness that I only dreamed of.
Now I have an idea of how much air I need for a phrase and how the breath can enhance movement. I cultivate breathing that supports my musical and movement intentions moving from powerlessness (so to speak) to a place of harnessing the power of the breath.
The breath can move every tissue in your torso if you are breathing naturally. Good news when we experience a muscle strain or are feeling tense.
I have to agree with Karel Lewit, “if you don’t own your breathing, you don’t own your movement.” When I am reflecting on how to be more expressive or coordinated I always look at how my breath is helping or hampering my intention. If I find it is hampering I have a solution.
If you are hitting the wall of breathing limitation in your playing, in your life, or in your movement practice, there is a solution,
Come to understand the structures and the movements of breathing.
Understand what “breathe deeper” actually means. (Hint: the air doesn’t go deeper in your body.)
Know how to take an inhalation to begin a phrase that is the true beginning of the phrase rather than a generic breath to start playing.
Know how to use the breath to build physical endurance or calm you.
Lately, my favorite breathing accomplishment is using the breath to run further. No, not a marathon further a few more tenths of a mile further for me.
Next week I am kicking off the second session of “Breathe Deeply Again.” Over three sessions you will come to understand breathing from the inside and know how to manipulate the breath for whatever you do from playing to public speaking to doing a dive kong!
Be curious and don’t forget to breathe!
Tuesday Musicians’ Drop In Class Continue
Friday - Body Mapping for EveryBODY