Thursday, 6 August 2020

Breathing during the time of Covid-19

Two interviews on the radio caught my attention this week. One was about a trial into providing singing classes with the ENO voice coaches for those experiencing chronic breathing problems after being seriously ill with C-19. Another was looking at the effect of stress on where we hold the tension in our body. In both cases the body tends to shift to overusing the accessory muscles for breathing, for instance the scalenes, sternocleidomastoid, pectorals and the abdominal muscles. This can cause a tense, braced posture with the shoulders coming in, and excessive neck tension. 

So, why singing lessons? A voice coach will help people to use the diaphragm; this is the muscle we use during passive breathing. The coach will also encourage people to move from just breathing into the upper part of the chest wall - a frequent stress response - to using the whole of the rib cage. I often notice with my clients who have very tight upper body muscles that they tend to gasp when asked to breath in, using great effort in the upper body muscles. Instead of this, the coaching encourages relaxed, deep, effective breathing. This relaxed style of breathing has another positive effect as it encourages letting go of the fight/flight/freeze stress response and moving into rest, digest and repair mode.

My blog post on 08/05/2020 includes two videos demonstrating breathing exercises.
There are also many online videos and articles by yoga, singing and breathing instructors. Let's all relax and breath easily.

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