advertise on Gilded Serpent

Gilded Serpent presents...
Improving Breathing
for Better Dance Performance

by Taaj

I am amazed at how many dancers are unaware of how much their breath affects their energy level and efficiency. If you are a dancer who finds herself out of breath after performing, dancing with a dry mouth, experiencing anxiety before performing, or feeling emotionally drained after a performance, read on!

Most people don't know how to breathe effectively. Most of us breathe very shallow and high in the chest. This doesn't allow the lungs to expand fully. This doesn't rid the body of all the carbon dioxide nor does it give us a good supply of oxygen.

We also hold our breath when we concentrate or get nervous. This brings tension into our bodies. The more tension we have, the more shallow we breathe. It can become a vicious circle!

But don't worry. We all were born knowing instinctively how to breathe well. We can learn how to do it correctly again.

If you look at babies, you will notice that they breathe slowly with a steady rhythm. They don't hold their breath. Their bellies expand fully. They breathe through both nostrils. If you are not doing this naturally and easily, here is how you can start.

  1. Lie down on your back. Close your eyes and breathe naturally. Don't do anything in particular. Just breathe through your nose and notice the breath going in and out. Continue "watching" your breathing until it becomes slow and soft.
  2. Once you are breathing slowly and easily, count the seconds it takes to inhale and exhale. If your inhalation takes 5 seconds, make sure that your exhalation is also 5 seconds. Don't force the breath. Straining will cause tension and that's what you want to avoid as tension makes the breath higher and faster. Go only to 70% of capacity and don't leave a gap between breaths. In other words, don't count, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (pause) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Be careful not to hold your breath.
  3. Once you have established a steady rhythm, you are ready to direct your breath into your belly. Put one hand on your belly just below your belly button and one hand on your chest. The hand on your belly should rise every time you inhale. As you exhale, the belly should return to normal. The hand on your chest should always remain still. Practice this for ten minutes a day. After a month, you should notice that you are able to do this naturally at any time during the day without thinking about it. You should also notice that you have more energy during your dance, have less or no anxiety before performing, and sweat less.
  4. If you want your breath to be even more efficient, you can practice expanding the breath so that it fills the bottom, middle, top, and sides (where your hip bones are) of the belly. Do this slowly. Add only one new area to your breath workout each month.

You may also want to incorporate breathing into your warm up. This ritual brings attention to the importance of your breath and helps to center you so that you can focus on what you are doing. Start by bringing your body into the basic belly dance posture. Take a couple of deep breaths.

As you are breathing, mentally scan your body to make sure that you are indeed in alignment and that no tension exists anywhere in the body. If you notice more weight on one side or a hip or shoulder is higher than the other, correct it and continue scanning. If you find a spot of tension, mentally let go of it as you exhale.

Continuing scanning the body and breathing slowly until you are satisfied that you are in alignment and are relaxed.

As you move into your warm up movements, coordinate your breath with each movement so that you exhale on the extension (moving away from the body) and inhale on the contraction (moving toward the body). Keep the breath and the movements slow and smooth. If the extension takes five seconds, the contraction should take five seconds. Continue to coordinate breath with movement for a minimum of five minutes. If your warm up includes movements that hold, be sure to breathe through those movements. Never hold your breath. Including breath work in your warm up should decrease the amount of time it takes to fully warm up the body as efficient breathing increases vascular functioning without increasing your heart rate.

With just a few minutes a day of breath work, you could increase your energy level and power while reducing your stage fright. It's such an easy change to make with incredible benefits, so why not start today?

Have a comment? Send us a letter!
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for other possible viewpoints!

Ready for more?
7-25-07 Tribute to Reema by Taaj
Hali said, “The day of the contest, backstage we could all just feel her. We were like, ‘This is for Reema! She’s here!”

8-30-06 Independent Contractor or Employee? by Taaj
The important thing is that the relationship between worker and payer be classified correctly for tax purposes so that you are aware of what taxes and filings you are liable for.

5-11-06 Rocking with Raqia by Taaj
Each explanation brought the class closer to understanding the essence of Egyptian style.

5-2-08 Live a DanceDivas’Life! Interview with Jane Yee Shan Chungby Lisa Chen
Then I saw the Suhaila technique workshop announced on her website and I just signed up without knowing exactly what her format is. I am the only person who did not learn Suhaila format before at that workshop. I was so naïve, I simply wanted to give it a try.

4-23-08 to ? From Toronto, Ontario, Canada The International Bellydance Conference of Canada Video reports by Gilded Serpent Staff
including Masouma Rose, Shira, Lynette Harris and many others. Reports are presented in video format inbedded all on the same page. Wednesday Evening show- "Remix 2007", Daytime activities on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Main Stage Shows from Thursday and Friday Night. Yet to come-- Saturday Night Gala performance at the Ryerson Theatre, Sunday Daytime acitivities and Sunday Night at the Nightclub "Myth"

4-21-08 Strained Relations Comic by Pepper Alexandria
Hi! Remember me? I'm your long lost cousin!

4-18-08 Dancing with the Legends - honoring the musicians who shaped our dance world... Eddie Kochak, the Sheik, the Man by Elizabeth Artemis Mourat, & Christy Guenther
Eddie found that the melodies from Aleppo still spoke to him as an adult. He continues, “I thought I could take some of these melodies, put my feelings to them, and create what we now call the Amer-Aba sound. We created simple routines for the teacher to teach and the student to learn.

advertise on Gilded Serpent

 Gilded Serpent
 Cover page, Contents, Calendar Comics Bazaar About Us Letters to the Editor Ad Guidelines Submission Guidelines