Marina Petrov

Award winning Pianist, Occupational Piano Injury Specialist, Lecturer & Piano Teacher Managing Director of Around the Globe Piano Music Festival

Award winning Pianist, Occupational Piano Injury Specialist, Lecturer & Piano Teacher / Managing Director of Around the Globe Piano Music Festival

Musician's health : Breathing exercises

Exercising various breathing techniques on a regular basis may help you to release mental and physical tensions.

Breath holding

Initially take a deep breath through your nose and hold it until you cannot hold any longer. Then, let your breath out quickly in short, sharp expulsions through the mouth. Ask yourself where you have felt tension in your body as you held your breath. The answer is likely to be that you felt it in the large muscle in the diaphragm area. The muscles tend to become quite tense and tight when a person is anxious and do a great deal of hard work consequently. By deliberately holding the breath and then expelling the air quickly, the cycle of tension is broken. As a result, there will be less anxiety and the muscles will be given a rest.

Stomach breathing

For this exercise, you should sit back and place your hands across the abdomen, touching it with the tips of your fingers. Next, while taking a deep breath in, push your stomach out taking your breath down to the stomach area. Notice that the fingers move apart then as you breathe out, your fingers will come back together again as your stomach, and chest relaxes. This exercise is helpful as often, tense people breathe in shallow, short breaths high up in the chest. This leads to tightness in the chest muscles as well as shoulders. By stomach breathing, people are encouraged to use abdominal muscles, rather like bellows - pulling an air in and out of the lungs, allowing deep breathing while giving the chest muscles a rest.

Note: Do not try this exercise more than 5-6 times at a stretch. This is because deep breathing if overdone can cause dizziness or general light headedness.

Breath counting

Try to regulate your breathing as though it was rhythmically in time with something like a metronome. This type of breathing has quite a calming effect as you count each breath mentally (as you breathe in count 1, as you breathe out count 2, etc,). Try to continue counting keeping nice, steady rhythm, and concentrate on numbers. Also, note that these exercises should be done by breathing through your mouth with the lips slightly apart. However, breathing through your mouth alone is not very effective.