Can singing Christmas carols improve your health?
Sounds pretty far-fetched, doesn’t it. Bear with me though.
There’s a lot to singing that can benefit you.
First off, professional singers of the classical or operatic
variety (even, I’ve heard, some popular singers) are avid
students of breathing.
They study with breathing coaches and practice breathing
techniques. They apply these techniques to their singing. This
enables them to hold and control each note and sound, and not
have to breathe excessively when singing a piece.
Of course, this also helps them really belt it out, a la Kathleen
Battles or Luciano Pavarotti.
Singing well requires that you make each breath count. You have
to develop lung capacity. You also have to control your
exhalation, make it last, with sufficient strength and energy.
One way to appreciate and practice the control and lung power
required is to sing along with your favorite song. For example,
try to sing the entire verse of “Jingle Bells” with only one
breath. Maybe start with two breaths. And don’t cheat by rushing
It’s hard to do, isn’t it? Singing in this way, by seeing how
long you can go before taking a breath, is a great way to build
In the Dynamic Energy Routine, part of the Secret Power of
Dynamic Energy Exercise Course, Volume 2 ,
one of the exercises has you attenuate (stretch out) your exhale.
This is akin to singing as long as possible without taking a
Stretching out your exhale is a great way to build control over
your breathing. In the exercise, you do this against “resistance”
which adds to its lung-building effects.
It’s difficult to do at first. But after you have practiced it for
a few days to one week, you will be amazed at the difference just
this one exercise makes in your breathing.
Another aspect to singing is the way it can put us into a
different frame of mind.
When I hear some of the classical or traditional holiday pieces,
I am reminded of the practice of chanting.
Chanting is an ancient method of spiritual, mental and physical
health. You find it in very diverse religious and ethnic
traditions all over the world. The repetition and rhythm enforce
calm, consistent, complete breathing and promotes enhanced focus.
Chanting can also lead to an “altered state of awareness” —
and I mean that in a positive way, not a drugged out way. If
you’ve ever heard the Liturgy of the Saints, or the Muslim call
to prayer, you know what I mean.
Not to sound overly kooky (I guess a little kooky is OK), if you
immerse yourself in certain traditional or religious musical pieces,
you actually forget about yourself for a few moments. Your
awareness moves to a higher plane.
This is the same concept as breathing deeply and rhythmically
along with targeted visualizations. This is also one reason why
you count when doing certain breathing exercises.
When you count, you naturally impose a rhythm on yourself. Your
conscious, analytical brain is lulled into submission by the
This allows the parasympathetic nervous system and subconscious
to come into play. You’re able to more effectively assimilate the
gains in your breathing ability.
Here are two more reasons to sing:
(1) Singing sacred or cherished verses postitively activates key
areas of your brain and your heart. You feel elevated, you feel
aligned in spirit with your fellow carol singers.
(2) It’s fun! Even if you think (or have been told) your voice
ain’t so great….who cares. Belt it out! Enjoy the singing as
well as the sentiments expressed in each song.
You Can Do It!
Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2010