The Pianist’s Breathwork

Setting our piano journey in its living context.
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, available here),

“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

More Breathing at the Piano

Breathing and stretching exercises for healthy practice and living
Compiled for Pianodao by Andrew Eales.


In my article about Breathing at the Piano, I shared some tips and simple exercises to help you reconnect with your breathing while playing.

That article was warmly received. I have heard from and worked with many players who found the simple exercises helpful, even revolutionary for their playing. If you’ve not already printed off and tried the FREE exercises, please check them out before going on.

The aim here is to help players easily check in with our breathing when at the piano. To understand the importance of this, please read about “Awareness in Breathing” in my article What is Qigong and Piano Playing and refer back to my article András Schiff and Natural Breathing for more background.

In this article, I will now build on the foundation of the exercises and ideas previously shared…

Continue reading More Breathing at the Piano

András Schiff & Natural Breathing

Breathing and stretching exercises for healthy practice and living
Compiled for Pianodao by Andrew Eales.


András Schiff, surely one of the most respected concert pianists of our time, made the following extraordinary observation in a recent interview with Pianist Magazine (No.76, Feb-March 2014):

“For me, it is breathing that is vital. You must breathe naturally, like a singer. Pianists and string players often tend to forget the necessity of breathing and they can become very tense; then they get back pains and wrist pains and so on. Usually it can be sorted out through the breathing.”

Breathing is a subject that I have rarely seen discussed in connection with piano technique, and even less so in the context of pianists’ injuries, their causes, cures and corrections. Schiff is hitting on a point that it would seem is indeed too often overlooked.

In this article I will consider the links between natural breathing and Qigong practice, as well as offering a simple breathing exercise that anyone can try…

Continue reading András Schiff & Natural Breathing