Factors That Affect Free Breathing
I want to introduce you to some of the factors that will lock up your breathing system and so work against you being able to breathe freely and with ease in public perforance situations.
Fight or Flight
Your body is pretty well protected all over by skin, muscle and bone. However, we have a number of spots that are vulnerable to ‘attack’ and that we always tighten and shield these areas when we feel that we may be in a ‘fight or flight’ situation. These areas are our eyes, mouths, necks, stomachs and our groin region. And of these places, we use three directly for speech. And of these three, your stomach is the key area. Your stomach houses your intestines and most of your organs. And all of these are vulnerable to attack and damage by kicking, beating or piercing with a sharp instrument. In order to protect ourselves from such damage when we feel vulnerable, the first thing that our bodies do is to tighten all the musculature in the area - unfortunately the same muscles that we need to keep free of tension and released for speech. In South Africa our everyday lives place us in danger and so cause us to carry tension in these areas. And in addition to this going in front of a camera or an audience also makes us feel vulnerable, and will often cause the body to react as if it were under attack, and so tighten this critical breathing area. Be aware of this, and work at all times to keep unlocking this area in order to over ride the fight or flight response.
The Thin Aesthetic
We also live in a growing and transitioning urban society that increasingly seeks an aesthetic that celebrates thin muscled people. Those of us who do not fit this mould will often hold in our stomachs to appear ‘more attractive’. I am afraid that if you do this you will suffer vocally. So either deal with your issues regarding your waistline, or go to gym. But do not hold in your stomach!
© Donald Woodburn