Playing and Living • Beyond the Notes
Written by ANDREW EALES
Breathwork is a form of meditation that relies on the body, rather than the mind, to do the work of calming. It lowers stress by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and increasing oxygen to the brain.
Breathing is the first and last thing that we do as humans. And yet most of us breathe in unconscious and restricted ways, leading to dire consequences for our bodies, physical health and emotional wellness.
But as Jennifer Patterson advocates in her brilliant The Power of Breathwork (2020),
“Breathing happens unconsciously all the time, but it can also be consciously and intentionally engaged with. How present you are to your breath is how present you are to your life. By bringing consciousness to the breath you can interrupt automatic responses, reactions, thought patterns, and more.”
During breathwork practice we intentionally focus on and systematically adjust our breathing patterns. Such exercises have been a core element of meditation, yoga (pranayama) practice, and qigong for centuries, but have recently been popularised worldwide by the wellness movement and as a mindfulness technique.
Breathwork is now also recommended by the NHS here in the UK as a tool to overcoming stress. Many find that this practice promotes deep relaxation and leaves them feeling energised.
In this article I am going to consider the value of simple breathwork practice for pianists, explaining how and when it can be a helpful tool, and introducing you to some easy and popular breathwork exercises that you will be able to try for yourself, straight away.Continue reading The Pianist’s Breathwork