How to Assess Your Breathing Mechanics During the Era of Coronavirus

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Breathing. It is one of the most basic functions of the human body. But did you know one’s state of breathing also reflects their state of mind? How one feels can drastically affect one’s breathing patterns which can make or break a big audition. During a YouTube Live for Backstage’s new digital video series The Slate, voice teacher Andrew Byrne demonstrated a few exercises to stretch the voice and breathing muscles that often go overlooked—and he even touched on how these exercises can help fight the side effects of those who’ve contracted COVID-19. Catch a few highlights—and learn how to stretch your diaphragm and more in the full video embed—below. 

READ: The Breathing Exercise That Can Strengthen Your Performance

Slow breathing is beneficial for everyone.
“Breathing. So it’s kind of on everybody’s mind. We are all hearing about it all the time. This disease that’s going around is a respiratory disease, and so we are trying to get a better sense of where we are with our breathing. It’s really, really important anyway for your performing, but it is super important right now. So I read a study this morning, they did slow breathing with people who are COVID-19 patients and saw improved oxygenation, which is why everyone is on ventilators. So there are things you can do at home to firstly, check where you are, and secondly, to work on your oxygenation in your bloodstream which is what we’re really interested in right now.”

Healthy breathing leads to an all around healthy lifestyle.
“So let’s talk about why else we would care about breathing. Headaches are related to breathing, so if you get a lot of headaches, [you’re] probably not breathing so well. Swelling goes down in the body when you breathe well…. Other things that help: Energy is super related to breathing; so if you always feel tired, you’re basically telling me you’re not breathing well. Control over food; so we’re all stuck at home right now right by our fridge. It’s easy to overeat. The better you breathe, the less you’re going to want food because food for your brain is air and glucose from food, so when you have better air coming up to your brain, you actually want less food. Also, good breathing makes you a better decision-maker under stress. It is something that helps you be clear minded when you’re in high pressure situations.”

Don’t forget that breathing is a part of onstage performance.
“I get asked this question a lot: When you watch people onstage singing, you see people breathing through their mouths, and that’s because when we’re singing, we’re doing these very heightened experiences. We are in really intense circumstances, and that’s what humans do when they’re under intense circumstances. They breathe through their mouth. It’s for things like incredible joy or fear or anguish, which singing often has. But, performers often don’t make a good line between ‘What am I doing onstage?’ and ‘What am I doing in life?’ So in life, we’re supposed to be nasal breathers because [mouth breathing] is only reserved for really intense stuff. The mantra you got to take for your daily life is low, slow, and through the nose.”

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