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gut breathing

Singers at West-Mont practicing how to take a proper deep breath.

In all my experiences working with choirs over the years, one thing is almost always present: breathing. I don't mean just breathing like the kind of breathing that proves that you're alive. I mean breathing from the right place in your body. Breathing from deep down, breathing that engages your diaphragm, breathing that feels like your belly is expanding. Maybe we can call it "gut breathing".

Scientifically speaking, it's probably not quite accurate to say that you're supposed to breathe from your gut. But it seems like this description captures the feeling you're supposed to have as you take in air. Rather than lifting up your shoulders and filling up only your chest and lungs, you keep your shoulders steady and imagine the air going down deep, filling you up as though your belly is actually expanding.

There are a whole bunch of exercises you can do to help singers learn what this feels like. And what I've found is that for most people, no matter what our age, we don't tend to remember to breathe properly - hence the breathing exercises that you will see incorporated near the beginning of many instances of formal singing rehearsals.

I wonder why this technique seems like it needs to be learned and re-learned and practiced and reviewed time and time again. Wouldn't it be great if we could push some kind of button that would guarantee that we breathe properly henceforth and forevermore?

So much of life is like this though. Maybe especially in our walk with the Lord. Just like doing breathing exercises matters and helps singers to prepare to sing well, so perhaps there are exercises we need to do that will help us prepare to live out the life we're called to live. Rather than get frustrated that we're back to breathing exercises AGAIN, maybe we can learn to accept that we need to be continually reset, that taking time to remind ourselves how to breathe is normal and good.

In her book Ready to Rise, Jo Saxton writes about how learning to breathe helped her to pay attention to where her strength comes from.

"One of the most foundational skills I learned from [my voice teacher] was how to breathe, the same way endurance athletes need to learn how to breathe. My vocal power came from a completely new place once I learned where to pull the air from. In developing my influence, I'd relied on the wrong things for strength and success, such as improper breathing techniques. I've relied on old habits forged by old wounds and old stories."

She goes on to describe how she desires for her strength to come from God. "As I live and lead and speak in every sphere of my life, my continual prayer is that I will be empowered by the healing, fiery, convicting, truth-telling Spirit of God."

What a beautiful thing we can pray over our lives and our communities of faith! Let's ask God together to show us what it looks and feels like for us to engage in "gut breathing", so that our daily strength as individuals, as families, as people of faith, comes from the breath and power of God deep within us.

Pray with me...

... Father, change us in whatever ways are needed if we are not drawing strength from You

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Psalm 62:1

.... Lord, give all of our teachers wisdom and creativity to train our students well Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

... God, for anyone who may feel discouraged today, please encourage them May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13


Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and pray for Alliance Christian School District! Lord willing, I plan to publish a new blog post weekly throughout the school year. Feel free to subscribe (at the bottom of this page) if you'd like to be notified each time a new blog post has been published. We also have a prayer team that is always open for new pray-ers to join. If you'd like to learn more, email me at

~ Carrie Warner, ACSD Prayer Team Coordinator

Soli Deo Gloria To God alone be the glory

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