Fundamentals: breathing

One of the first things to consider in your fundamentals is a quick check on breathing. Doing breathing exercises can address a number of things. For me the big ones are:

  1. lung capacity
  2. flow rate
  3. a reminder of natural breathing form

Lung capacity is largely fixed, but breathing expansively can remind you of the kind of breathing we may rarely do–the full breath. A few moderately-slow breaths which fill up your lungs to their maximum capacity helps awaken our breathing. As you do this, allow your torso to expand on all sides (front, back, left and right) uniformly.

Then try breathing while keeping count of the length of inhale, hold and exhale. I like to count at about 60 bpm, often using a finger click to keep track if I am modeling for students. Start with 4 count in, 4 count hold, and 4 count out. Expand any one of these three parts, or perhaps expand the part where there is no air left in the lungs (a “negative hold”).

Speaking of the negative hold, try this for about 20 or 30 seconds (whatever is your limit). When your body really wants to breathe, allow yourself a breath. Notice the way in which you breath after the negative hold. This is usually a very natural breath, and this is the way we should almost always breath–naturally.

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