How to breathe yourself into peak performance

After I climbed the narrow Amsterdam stairs to the third floor, I have to take off my shoes. Of course. I forgot. Again. Don’t you just love it.

With her clear blue eyes, she observes me. “Please sit down”, she quietly invites me.

I just turned twenty, a rushed and unsettled student – I throw my bag in a corner, and try to reach that peaceful state she apparently always is in.

It doesn’t work.

“Lay on the floor,” she instructs, “close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Send it to your toes.”

Ah. That I can do.

“Send your following breath towards your heels.”

Yes. I can feel my breath slowly descending and it feels goooood. Now we’re getting somewhere.

“Send your next breath to your belly, and pretend that you are an oil spot, that is slowly expanding.”

Really? Okay! As I nearly fill the whole room, I almost fall asleep.

I just loooove these singing lessons. So relaxing. Just what I needed. I don’t want to get up. Just let me lie here. I gladly pay whatever it takes to get me to Zen.

Of course, as a singer, you already know that breathing is a key issue to singing. Hell yes, to life, for that matter.  Conscious breathing can get us into a relaxed state. Our so called monkey brain quiets down when we focus on one thing and one thing only.

When performing excites you, but your nerves get in the way – focus on your lower breathing. It will help you relax! Yes! Hurray! It will calm your nervous system, increase your focus and reduce stress, all experts say.

So here’s my favorite lower breathing exercise for you :

(I took the freedom to adapt it for us vocalists, as this exercise is based upon Sama Vritti or “Equal Breathing”, in which you only breathe in and out through your nose.)

Breathe in through your nose in 4 seconds.

Hold for another 4.

Breathe out through your mouth for 4 seconds.

Hold still for another 4.

Repeat, repeat, repeat. Until you feel calm and collected. Now smile and throw yourself on stage.

And remember to once in a while send your breath to your feet, so you’ll stay connected whenever you reach performance paradise.

With love,

Ilse Huizinga

2017-12-20T11:45:20+00:00

About the Author:

Ilse Huizinga is a jazz vocalist from Amsterdam, The Netherlands, thus, every day she rides her bike on wooden shoes through fields of tulips and windmills while eating Gouda cheese and drinking Heineken. Ilse loves vocal jazz, photography and travel. Ilse is listed in “The jazz singers, the ultimate guide” as one of the 500 best jazz singers of all times. Yet, she somehow manages to do her own grocery shopping! Besides performing and recording, Ilse coaches jazz singers around the world. If chasing her is a bit too much for you, and you'd still like access to all of her knowledge and experience, check out her Jazz Singers Academy.
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