Breathe in- Breathe out
Rather I should be saying stomach in- stomach out. That’s how we were designed to breathe by default.
The rhythm of breathing creates electrical activity in the human brain that enhances emotional judgments and memory recall, scientists have discovered for the first time. These effects on behavior depend critically on whether you inhale or exhale and whether you breathe through the nose or mouth.—study results (Northwestern University).
Why am I talking about respiratory system today?
Well, we all have seen, heard, experienced the benefits of deep-breathing ever since this pandemic happened. It might seem a common thing to discuss. But today, I am discussing this with reference to leadership communication. Yes, you read it right.
You’ve been breathing since birth; it’s just that a majority of us breathe from lungs, including me, till a few years ago when I came to know of lungs’s functioning. The only thing that stuck with me – lungs- the main respiratory organs, I forgot the diaphragm’s contribution.
The diaphragm is a thin skeletal muscle that sits at the base of the chest and separates the abdomen from the chest. It contracts and flattens when you inhale. This creates a vacuum effect that pulls air into the lungs. When you exhale, the diaphragm relaxes and the air is pushed out of lungs. –www.healthline.com
My involvement with communication studies got me notice the role our posture, voice, and breath plays to make it effective.
While working with my clients, I realized most people are completely unaware of what they’re doing with their breathing system, again because, they never cared just as we don’t pay attention to our feet while walking, or our teeth while chewing or even our heart while it is pumping.
Breathing is so much more than just an auto programmed feature of our bodies. So if you want to sound inspired and inspiring, read on, and be ready to boost your influence.
Speaking is controlled breathing
Every time you speak your exhale. Hold your hand next to your mouth and speak- did you feel the warmth of your breath?
Now, try to speak something as you inhale from your nostrils- see!
Breathing well is the first step of speaking well. It means you need enough air in your lungs to breathe out words and sentences. This means that you need to breathe in adequately before you speak. It also helps you in producing a good and confident voice- we will be talking more on voice quality later.
Check your breathing
There is a very simple way to check your breathing pattern for yourself. Stand straight, place one hand on your belly and another hand on your chest. Watch yourself in the mirror. Breathe naturally and calmly, and notice which part of your body moves the most. If you breathe well you should find that most of the movement is in your belly.
As you breathe in, your belly should expand outwards. Stomach out
As you breathe out, your belly should retract. Stomach in
That’s how the babies breathe.
If you find a great deal of movement in your chest rather than your belly, or if your shoulders rise and fall as you breathe, this means you are not breathing effectively and indirectly it is preventing you from using your voice properly.
How to breathe?
Lie down on your back, knees bent up. Place one hand on your belly and another hand on your chest.
- Breathe out all the air from your lungs and close your mouth. Do not breathe in again until your body tells you to. Feel the vaccum.
- Now, let your body to breathe in for you, it will happen automatically. With this breath, you should start to feel your belly rising up and you may find that the breath you take is somewhat deeper.
- Breathe it all out again immediately and notice how your belly drops back to its original position. Wait for the next in-breath.
Practise technique for about 10 minutes, and observe the sense of release and freedom in your belly as you breathe.
You should start to feel calmer and more relaxed. Gradually you will practice this breathing pattern when you are sitting, then standing and then 24*7.
Belly-breathing or diaphragmatic breathing gives you a skill, essential for successful and authoritative speaking.
Breathe in- Breathe out
Stomach in- stomach out
Did you get your copy of my book- ‘Business English and Leadership Communication’?