The joy of breathing. The necessity of breathing. The reminder of the importance of breathing.
For the past twenty years, I have been an acappella singer. For ten of those twenty years, I have been a musical director, guiding, teaching and directing other women to sing acappella as well.
A big part of singing – in fact the most important part of singing – is breathing. It is the fuel and the energy, and is always “Lesson One” of any class I teach or any rehearsal I lead.
March 11, 2020 was the last time I was with my group of women – and the last time I felt like singing.
Overnight, in our area of the world, the pandemic took hold, lockdowns began, and I became an essential worker. Overnight.
Where I work was deemed an essential business, and thousands of people came to stock up for the unknown.
Within weeks it became mandatory for our safety to wear a mask while we worked, as well as to enforce social distancing and to sanitize EVERYTHING.
Mask wearing became our ‘new normal’. For 8 hours a day we wear masks while we do our jobs. It’s not something I am complaining about. It’s keeping us safe and I am thankful for that.
But as a singer, as a musical director, as a teacher of lessons on breathing – I was reminded recently to remember to breathe.
It was my own body telling me. It was my body not being happy with all of the shallow mouth-breathing that had become my habit while working and wearing a mask.
Breathing through our mouths is helpful for getting air into our lungs quickly and will do the trick at keeping us going. But breathing in through our noses is what our body really needs.
With all of the shallow mouth breathing I was doing, I began to feel a lot of congestion and pressure in the top of my head. My sinuses were clear, but the top of my head felt ‘oogie’. It could be called a ‘head cold’, I guess. But as an RHN (Registered Holistic Nutritionist) with the study of symptomology in my wheel-house, I knew that this feeling of head pressure was my body’s way of telling me something was out of whack.
So I started taking deep nasal breaths.
Deep breath in through my nose, slowly to a count of four, holding it for a count of four, taking another quick sip of air in, and then releasing it slowly out through my nose for a count of four. Try it once and you will notice a difference. Try it again and then again, to help your body release some of the stress it is holding onto.
Breathe in peace. Breathe out stress.
Within a day of rest and focused deep breathing, my head felt clear again and I felt back to normal
I’ve started putting some essential oils in my mask now while I work, as a reminder throughout the day to use my nose to breathe more, and my mouth less.
I have a nice blend that includes Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Lemon, Camphor and Tea Tree Oil. It a punchy blend that is a strong reminder to breathe, and also helps keep all of my internal breathing apparatus clear.
Shallow mouth breathing still happens, and I often catch myself during the busy-ness at work, to remember to breathe properly…through my nose. Yup, focus on the smell of the oils.
This pandemic will run its course, and it will end one day.
One day I will feel like singing again.
One day I might even return to teaching others how to breathe, and how to sing.
But for today, I will remember to Just Breathe.