“10 Steps to Competition Greatness”
# 6 – Notice your breathing. Allow it to come and go on its own. Give yourself the time to ease into this moment.
During my performing career, as a young dancer, I often felt that there was never enough ‘wind’ in me to enjoy my whole pas de deux, variation or particularly long, fast sequence, I could feel the oxygen debt in my legs and the need to kick in acting skills that signaled “no, I am not dying out here”.
For sure, I knew that easeful breathing was immensely helped by a lot of practice resulting in conditioning that produced stamina.
But what really got to me was when breathing became short and shallow due to nerves, fear and an inability to feel grounded. Click here for my stage fright confession.
Breathing is affected by nervousness, worry or even the expectation of doing well in competition.
Breathing IS automatic Even so, we can easily interfere with free breathing just as we can interfere with our musculature by habitually over contracting. Jessica Wolf, from The Art of Breathing says:
“I often ask myself whether efficient breathing begins with dynamic alignment, or whether balance and coordination rely on efficient breathing”.
I’ve found it to be a feedback mechanism where both are necessary for the other to work efficiently. But here is the sticky part; it is not EASY, when feeling overwhelmed and controlled by adrenaline to just wish it away, or worse, ignore it.
Breathing coordination does not require active “doing,” but it does require intention. Paying attention to the physical aspects of it and applying tools creates a new plan and in the end a change of habit.
In order to restore breathing rhythms it helps to:
- Notice your breathing.
- Allow it to come and go on its own (even if you think you can’t).
- Let your neck be easy.
- You are thinking your head, neck and spine pointing up.
Because you are not ignoring your quickened breathing pattern or incessant yawning, you have the opportunity to apply tools whenever you choose.
Be gentle with yourself – be compassionate.
Happy Dancing! If you know other dancers who may benefit from these tips, please forward. If you wish, please leave a comment or question about your own breathing patterns and I will respond.
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