I had another interesting insight listening to a Tony Robbins CD. Robbins was describing a breathing exercise he sets great store by. It consisted of breathing in deeply for a count of seven, then hold it for a count of 28, then exhale for a count of 14. This is done ten times in a row, and three times a day. According to Robbins, this type of breathing improves the oxygenation of the body and circulates lymph by compressing the diaphragm. The net result is a dramatic increase in energy and vitality.
The odd thing is that when I tried this out, I realized that the breathing movements were almost identical to one of my favorite activities – singing. Proper breathing for singing involves breathing deeply in and then sustaining a tone with very little air escaping from the lungs. A good singer can hold a lit match in front of their mouth while singing and not put it out. The result is basically a sustained, held breath – supported from the diaphragm. This is exactly the same patters of Robbin’s exercise.
So, if you’re going to do breathing exercises – why not sing instead? If Robbins is correct, then singing should improve your energy and overall health by oxygenating the body and circulating energy. Besides this, singing is fun and creative. It also keeps your vocal cords in good shape. The vocal cords are muscles, and like all other muscles, they tend to atrophy with age and lack of exercise. This is why the elderly can develop thin, reedy voices. Singing can keep the vocal cords in shape and keep your voice sounding younger as you age.
Personally, I’ve always preferred meaningful activity to exercises simply for their own sake. This is one reason I enjoy activities like martial arts, hiking and archery. These seem more meaningful and less artificial than using a treadmill or exercise machines – as interesting as those can sometimes be. I would much rather sing than do special breathing exercises.
Singing is something that every human being should do. It’s a wonderful part of being human. It is a sacred form of self-expression. In the most ancient religious liturgies, the most important parts of the service were always sung, because song was considered a more sacred manner of addressing God.
I should mention that if you are going to get any breath-control benefits out of singing, you need to learn to sing properly, with proper diaphragm control.There are a number of websites that can give you pointers if you don’t know how to sing properly. A quick google search will turn up everything you need to get started.