Air Doesn’t Force the Bellows Open

It’s also important to note that, in order to breathe, we do not do anything to the air or manipulate it in any way; air comes in and out of the lungs by means of the mouth and nostrils as an indirect result of the rhythmic movements of the ribs and diaphragm. This means that the quality of breathing depends not on what we do with the air but on what we do with ourselves; in order to breathe, we do not do something with the air so much as with our own bodies. This is a point of crucial importance, since virtually all of us, when we start to vocalize, have the idea of taking a breath, when our focus should be on the overall conditions on which breathing depends.

It is probably also worth mentioning that, when we breathe, it is not the air that expands our ribs but the movement of our ribs that causes air to flow into our bodies. Some people insist that, when they breathe, the breath seems to expand the ribs; they find it hard to believe that air cannot move their rib cage any more than it can force a bellows open. When we breathe, the flow of air into and out of our lungs is a secondary result of movements of ribs and diaphragm, which are the main agents that cause breathing to take place.

Theodore Dimon, “Your Body, Your Voice.”

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