Here’s a fun and simple tip to awaken the power of your breath to shift worry, feel better, and effect powerful changes to feel better.
This sounds simple, doesn’t it?
But when you are worrying, how do you take a deep breath? Anxiety and looping thoughts often accompany shallow breathing. Let’s take a look to find some surprising ways to to access deeper breathing in a fun way.
Discovering the power of breath, through song, and my horse!
I first got an inkling of the power of my breath back in 1988 in one of my first Centered Riding Lessons.
My riding instructor had me sing “Row, Row, Row” your boat while trotting on my horse, Ibis! I thought she was off her rocker!
Surprisingly, I could barely get out the simple one word syllables. My breath was so shallow and constricted. Plus, I felt incredibly silly, actually embarrassed, to be singing while riding!
I gave the simple kid’s song a try and rather quickly, my breath became deeper. Oddly enough, I felt my horse trotting in a steadier rhythm and able to go easily down the ring in straight lines – as soon as my breath deepened.
Before singing and breathing more deeply, no matter what I tried, he was not trotting in a steady rhythm, nor would he trot in straight lines. I thought the problem lay with my horse.
Through the simple act of changing my breathing pattern, I experienced 5 surprising and immediate benefits when singing this simple song:
1) I felt better physically
2) My emotions and worries calmed down
3) My horse changed his way of movement easily
4) I discovered a new form of communication, with my own body, and between my horse and I
5) I discovered an easy way to effect change with issues & problems that were previously difficult
My breath deepened, my body relaxed, my focus shifted off the problem, I felt better, and my horse changed. What? This was new territory for me.
Start by singing a few bars of Row, Row, Row Your Boat out loud just to get you going. First Verse: “Row, Row, Row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.” (If you don’t remember or know the tune just Google Row, row, row your boat and find one of the many videos available.)
This gets your throat and diaphragm opening with blood flowing. Continue to sing the song verse for a just a few minutes.
Notice your breath starts to deepen automatically.
And, did your focus move away from any worries or issues?
Just because you’re singing!
Purposefully Shift Your Attention This Week
Breath can carry you through any issue or uncomfortable circumstance into a dramatic and powerful shift physically, physiologically, mentally and emotionally.
Use the power of breath with this simple song for a way to purposefully shift your attention this week away from an issue or problem. Try this with ANY issue that arises: Walking a dog that pulls on the leash, leading or riding your horse, financial worries, physical pain, emotional concerns, etc.
Sing the Full Verse for 7 days
Sing the entire verse over and over for a few minutes at a time, at least once a day for the next 7 days: “Row, Row, Row Your boat, gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.”
Let the Words Inspire You
As I was writing this article, I realized the words are also a great metaphor for living life and give a purposeful directive on how to live:
Row gently through life, don’t go upstream, go with the flow, merrymaking. Remember life is but a dream that you’re creating.
The lyrics bring your attention to creating flow vs being stuck in focusing on a problem or issue and can become a mindful practice in and of itself.
Singing to Feel Good
Direct physical changes occur in your nervous system when singing, reducing stress and muscle tension, and increases your ability to problem-solve and focus.
An article on the neuroscience of singing in uplift.com states, “Numerous studies demonstrate that singing releases endorphins and oxytocin – which in turn relieve anxiety and stress and which are linked to feelings of trust and bonding.”
When you create this type of shift in yourself, you have increased the potential for others to shift as well. Just as I experienced with my horse years ago.