Today proved a challenging one. I had 12 hours of teaching to accomplish, not an easy feat by any means! The goal was to be as fresh for my last class as I was for my first. I aimed at practicing what I preach – lower and use my breath fully throughout the day. Lowering my breath worked. Not only did I make it through 12 hours of teaching without feeling exhausted, but I knew the information was still specific and energized at the end-whew!
I have often found that working on lowering breath is the key to success in many areas. To be a powerful speaker or a truthful actor, one must find and use breath well. We often live in our upper body, breathing around the clavicular area and raising our shoulders high for every inhalation. This may feel good at the outset, but usually leads to shorter breaths and poor control.
Stretching the sides and back often helps to lower one’s breathing capacity quickly into the base of the ribcage. This enables one to involve the core of the body more and control a longer exhalation and calm nerves. How many times have we seen performers or sports figures take a deep breath seconds before the start of the event? The same could be said for how we handle moments of fear after car accidents or sudden falls. The mere act of oxygen moving into the body provides some measure of immediate relief.
Actors and public speakers alike suffer from debilitating self-consciousness or nerves, so breathing in a slower, deeper way helps prevent or deal with the issues. The result is, of course, strengthening the mental focus, as well as the physical.
Let’s hope I don’t forget my own advice on my next 12-hour day!