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A breath of fresh air!

Breathing. It’s the most natural thing in the world. How can we possibly get it wrong?!

There’s far more to breathing than we realise and it’s oh so easy to get into bad habits. Stress, fear, pain and posture amongst other things, can all affect the way we breathe. In turn, the way we breathe can affect stress levels, pain and posture – and of course – the voice.

Thanks to a car accident many years ago & various other incidents, like many people, I’ve had more than my fair share of back problems. Osteopathy and physiotherapy have worked wonders, as have Pilates and yoga. But a few years ago, after a blessed period of relief, the niggles returned. My physiotherapist called in a colleague & after listening to a bit of my history, spotted the issue immediately.  “You’re over-breathing”, he said. “Your diaphragm & pelvic floor act together, so if we correct your breathing, the alignment of pelvis, neck, shoulders etc will all follow. Are you prepared to do some rather wacky exercises?” I was. I did them religiously for a few months, each exercise building on the one before. Guess what? It worked! I’d had a few years of living with pain of one sort or another & as a consequence, my breathing & my whole body had been thrown out of whack. You’ll find more information about the role of physiotherapy here Physiotherapy for Breathing Pattern Disorders

In the 1950’s, a Russian scientist, Dr Constantin Buteyko, suggested that there was a direct link between breathing & a large variety of chronic conditions. There’s common sense behind this theory. If cells aren’t being oxygenated properly, they won’t perform as effectively. He introduced the Buteyko breathing method to his patients & had some amazing results. Since then, word has spread and the first clinical trial was carried out in Australia in 1994. If you’d like to read more about Buteyko, here’s one of many websites on the subject - Buteyko Breathing Centre

The benefits of conscious, slow breathing are well known and I always feel like I’m floating after an hour of mindful, breath focused yoga. Who needs gin & tonic?! Breath helps to control & direct movement. This is a great little article, explaining why the breath is so central to yoga and to our lives. Well, obviously we’d be dead if we stopped breathing, but you know what I mean! Why is breath so important in yoga

When you breathe correctly, your core supports your spine and there’s less risk of injury. The same applies to voice over work, singing and teaching for that matter. The voice needs to be fully supported by the breath in order to prevent strain on the vocal cords.

Mindfulness also uses the idea of conscious breathing to great effect. And guess what, those gremlins that I’ve mentioned in previous blogs don’t like conscious breathing at all, because they’re no longer the centre of attention!

When you can, check in with your breathing, pay attention to it, notice it and be aware that altering your breathing can have a profound effect on both body and mind.

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