In and out. Innn and Ouuutt. Innnnnnnn and Ooouuuttt. OK, stop - I'm light headed;) Such a simple task and yet, one we commonly overlook, both in dancing and life. One of my students recently confessed she was waiting until she messed up to breathe. Sounds both painful and unfair, yet sadly, it's our first tendency when we're nervous. I still do it when I dance with people who challenge me. What are we, eight?
Breathing is our most basic human right - why do we take it away from ourselves in situations where it would be most helpful? Besides providing that ever so convenient element, oxygen, breathing relaxes our bodies. When we're relaxed, we make better dancers, better wives, and better mothers (sub husbands and dads OR lovers and friends as you see fit;).
We've all seen the movies where Lamaze is exaggerated for the sake of a few laughs. But it's true, breathing correctly can help you cope with pain (something I need to keep in mind in the immediate future). We're supposed to breathe into our diaphragms and allow our bellies to rise and fall. Now, I recently received a lecture from my chiropractor that basically said since women want to appear thin, we don't allow our bellies to move. Instead, we breathe into our chests. As a tomboy, probably until my dying day, I challenged his theory. Now I challenge you:
Right now, I want you to breathe in and out from your chest three times. Then breathe in and out from your diaphragm, that tiny space between your rib cage and belly, three times. Feels better, right? Now let's go all yoga on ourselves and try to breathe all the way through our bodies to our toes, then release. At this very moment, if you really did that (if you didn't, DO IT) I'll bet money you feel calm... almost surreal. And you're probably breathing more deeply right now without trying.
So why don't we do that all the time? Because our coworkers will think we've lost it! I know. But, we can train ourselves to breathe into our diaphragms without looking too suspicious. Besides feeling better, we'll improve our singing:).
When we breathe deeply, we can handle what life, or leads, throw at us with more grace. If you're a lead reading this, you take the tension out of your body with proper breathing, which makes for a better conversation between you and your follow. Start with exhaling. In moments you tend to tense up, exhale slowly and evenly, and watch the tension melt out of your body, (esp. your traps). Then observe the effect that has on your partner. Aaahhh. Yes, you can say it out loud if you want to.
It's easier said than done, I realize that. But we have to fight the good fight. Start once a day, focusing on your breathing. Then progress to three times a day. Maybe you can breathe before meals. You'll probably eat slower, which most of us would benefit from. Or just breathe before you fall asleep. It should be easy to find times to sneak in this Vital part of our day. Let's not get so distracted we forget;)
Since I won't see you on the hardwood, I need a new sign off. I think, until I'm recovered, I'll go with: fight the good fight. That's sure as hell what I'll try to do:) Join me, won't you?
Allison loves to write almost as much as she loves to dance, so no one had to twist her arm to get her to write about dancing!