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Breathing: how it works

The end of this month is Love Your Lungs Week so we thought it was time to talk about breathing: how it works

Breathing is something we all do everyday without even thinking about it. However, when you are presenting, delivering an important speech or singing, breathing is an incredibly important part of the process to consider.

The importance of breathing in presenting

Whatever it is that you’re doing, how you breathe, when you breathe, how much you breathe all be come really important points in order to be heard.

If you have read my previous blogs, you’ll know that the flow of air through our vocal folds is what makes them vibrate.

When we breathe, we start that airflow.

Our lungs

Think about the lungs as a big whoopee cushion. But because they’re basically filled with air or not filled with air, they have the capacity to expand and then contract again.

However, the lungs themselves are not a muscle. They, by themselves, have no ability to do anything other than transfer oxygen to the bloodstream.

So how do we get the lungs to move? Well, we use different muscle groups to make the lungs expand and contract. These muscle groups can be used together or independently of one another. These groups give their names to the different types of breathing. Keep your eyes peeled for later blogs in which we’ll discuss the different muscle groups and their related breathing styles.

Our lungs have the ability to increase in volume. Let’s think about our lungs like a pair of old-fashioned bellows

When we breathe out, their surface area is kind of like two bits of wood and a little bit of leather. But if I open them up (breathe in), they’re pulling air in and suddenly the volume has increased. Bellows give a really good idea of what your lungs are doing because your hands are essentially the muscles that we use to open up and close.

Throughout this month we’re going to be looking at clavicular breathing, thoracic breathing, and diaphragmatic breathing. From there we’re going look then at a few of the other concepts and the other things to bear in mind about breathing in general and how it can help you and tips to help you when you are performing or delivering.

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