Thursday, June 21, 2018

Are your practice habits healthy?

I'm so excited for our upcoming Wyoming Summer Flute Intensive this weekend, and am in the throes of updating material for our workshops. We start every day with a not-rushed stretching session, some breathing exercises, and then warm-ups played as a group.  Not only does this bring a group of strangers together quickly, I hope it will also serve as a basis for healthy, well-rounded practice after participants leave. Here are some favorites from last year's sessions:

Breathing Exercises (which is heavily inspired by Breathing Gym)

Explore the Spaces: Isolate the different chambers you can fill with air—lower abdomen, chest, back/sides. Place one hand on your abdomen, the other on your chest, and work to push out each hand (meaning you are filling up) as much as possible.  Try this sequence: fill up for four beats each in 1. Lower abs 2. Back/sides 3. Chest. Add one beat of “slurp” breath to see how much more you can pack in, then exhale steadily. Experiment with shorter inhalation times and longer exhalation times as you develop this exercise. 
Suck-n-Pop: Resistance training for your abs! Create extreme resistance through suction by placing the back of the hand against your mouth, in the way of proper inhalation. Then quickly remove the hand, creating a “pop” sound and allowing for a quick, deep inhale.  Then exhale smoothly.  Experiment with shorter inhalation times and longer exhalation times as you develop this exercise.  (from Breathing Gym)
Time is Running Out: Breathe in for 4 counts and out for 4 counts.  Repeat once.  Breathe in for 3 counts and out for 3 counts.  Repeat once.  Breathe in for 2 counts and out for 2 counts.  Repeat once. Breathe in for 1 count and out for 1 count.  Repeat the 1-to-1 pattern as comfort allows. Quarter note = 60-88.

And although what we do is a bit more involved, this Mayo Clinic slide show has some pretty great stretches that you can easily personalize with your own variations to target specific points of tension! So here's to a summer of healthy practicing... 😊

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