Learning to walk gracefully in each season of life can be a challenge. Just when I settle comfortably into one season, unexpected change comes and once again I have to adjust and fit ‘new shoes’ for the occasion. It is my faith and trust in God that enables me to move forward and accept the challenges that each new season brings. Sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back; nevertheless, there is grace and gratitude in every season.
Season For Singing
October has been a great month for break through and revelation. I had several opportunities to sing with my sister and the LA Winds Jazz Band at some very nice venues. It was an awesome blessing to be able to enjoy the fruits of our collective labor and our regular rehearsals. Not every artist gets the opportunity to put their work on its feet so when I do, I am very grateful. I even had the chance to sing for the Compassion First fund raising banquet.  A wonderful cause and good occasion to give back the gifts and talents I was given.
REASONS TO SING
Even if you are not a professional or an aspiring professional, singing for fun has many positive health benefits. Singing can be practiced by anyone, regardless of age or expertise.
- Singing Reduces Stress and Has the Health Benefits of Yoga
Singing eases stress, clears the mind, and focuses on breathing. This calming effect is as beneficial to our health as yoga. “Song is a form of regular, controlled breathing, since breathing out occurs on the song phrases and inhaling takes place between these,” says Dr Björn Vickhoff, “It gives you pretty much the same effect as yoga breathing. It helps you relax, and there are indications that it does provide a heart benefit.” 
- Singing Improves Breathing and Respiratory Conditions
The deep full breathing that is encouraged by singing and yoga can train our lungs to breathe more efficiently. I encourage my students to use diaphragmatic breathing as well as lateral breathing into the sides of the waist and also into the back. Expand these areas while breathing in. The Alternate Nostril Breath or Sinus Clearing Breath* in yoga, is also wonderful for opening the sinuses. My students and I sometimes get relief within minutes!
- Singing Provides Both Physical and Psychological Benefits
“Singing has physical benefits because it is an aerobic activity that increases oxygenation in the blood stream and exercises major muscle groups in the upper body, even when sitting. Singing has psychological benefits because of its normally positive effect in reducing stress levels through the action of the endocrine system which is linked to our sense of emotional well-being. Psychological benefits are also evident when people sing together as well as alone because of the increased sense of community, belonging and shared endeavour.” [3 ]
- Singing Boosts the Immune System and Helps With Chronic Pain
A study at Cardiff University in 2012 found lung cancer patients who sang in a choir had a greater expiratory capacity than those who didn’t. Singing has also been shown to boost our immune system and according to a report published in the Journal of Music Therapy in 2004, it helped patients cope with chronic pain. [4 ]
- Singing Will Prolong Life and Promote Heart Health
“According to the findings of a joint Harvard and Yale study, choral singing increased the life expectancy of the population of New Haven, Connecticut. The report concluded that this was because singing promoted both a healthy heart and an enhanced mental state.” [5 ]
- Singing Can Lower Your Blood Pressure and Help You Relax
“You may have heard the heartwarming news story about a woman in Boston whose blood pressure shot up just before knee-replacement surgery. When drugs alone weren’t enough, she began singing her favorite hymns, softly at first, then with more passion. Her blood pressure dropped enough for the procedure, which went off without a hitch. Now, we’re not suggesting you trade blood pressure treatments for a few verses of “Amazing Grace,” but try adding singing to your routine. It releases pent-up emotions, boosts relaxation, and reminds you of happy times, all of which help when stress and blood pressure spike.” 
- Singing is Good Therapy!
Singing changes the brain and releases endorphins, the ‘feel good’ hormone. It is both calming and energizing. It soothes your nerves and elevates your spirit. 
I have found this creating exercise great for opening the sinuses before singing and expanding lung capacity.
* Instructions for Alternate Nostril Breath (Sinus Clearing Breath)
Like in singing it is important that your face, jaw and tongue are relaxed for this yoga breathing exercise. Find a comfortable position. Using your right hand, place your right thumb on the right nostril. Breathe in deeply through the left nostril. Close the left nostril with the first finger and exhale through the right nostril. Breathe in deeply through the right nostril. Close the right nostril with the thumb; exhale through the left. Continue alternating sides. Make sure your breaths are full, starting under the ribs, and then moving into the sides of the waist and back.
Whether you are singing alone in the car, in church, or with a group, keep on singing your way to good health. Can’t wait for Sunday to sing!
~ With a song in my heart, Linda
“Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.” Psalm 147:1
(1) Compassion First helps survivors of sexual trafficking. http://www.compassionfirst.org/
(2) Dr Björn Vickhoff, led a study at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden into music and wellbeing. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/10168914/All-together-now-singing-is-good-for-your-body-and-soul.html
(3) Professor Graham Welch, Chair of Music Education at the Institute of Education, University of London. Professor Graham has studied developmental and medical aspects of singing for 30 years. – http://www.sing2beatbreastcancer.com/?page_id=27 -PsycNET http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2013-26499-001/
(4) All Together Now: Singing is Good for Your Body and Soul – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/10168914/All-together-now-singing-is-good-for-your-body-and-soul.html
(5) Singing: Boosting Health and Morale – http://www.yoga-abode.com/wellbeing/singing_for_wellbeing
(6) Dr. Mehmet C. Oz, MD, and Michael F. Roizen, MD http://www.enhansenments.com/writings/ (7) Singing Changes Your Brain – http://ideas.time.com/2013/08/16/singing-changes-your-brain/
(7) Singing Changes Your Brain – http://ideas.time.com/2013/08/16/singing-changes-your-brain/
DISCLAIMER: This is a personal blog, reflecting my personal opinions and its contents are not intended to offer personal medical advice. This blog does not necessarily reflect the opinions of my employers. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. All content is copyrighted. Photo credit is given when know but some photos of unknown origin may appear on this blog. Please contact me if you have additional information about photo credits.