Sometimes I catch myself holding my breathe while playing, especially when trying a difficult fill. It is a totally unconsciuos thing and I am wondering if there is anyone out there who has worked on their breathing and found any improvement in their playing a a result?
My technique is to inhale, then exhale. Repeat as necessary.
JK, JK, sounds to me like you are VERY tense at the drum set. Ironically, what you really DO need to do when you are tense is breathe. When my small boys are tense or worked up or have hurt themselves, I tell them to breathe, breathe. Deeply in, deeply out. It is amazing how effective it is, as they've known in the East for thousands of years. Mindfulness of your breath is centering and calming. It's a common technique in Zen.
I've never actually tried it, but it could be both and fun and beneficial for you to breathe in time with your drumming. Set up a slow and steady rhythm just like you do while jogging.
I'm going to try this next time I'm at my kit. Puts a whole new spin on "meditative drumming"...
In every sport that I have ever participated in (Tennis,Golf,Shooting,Bicycle Racing,Skiing) breathing was always a topic that was discussed at some time by my instructors. It is also important in drumming. Breathing helps your rhythm in all activities that you do. Not only does it provide your brain and muscles with proper amounts of oxygen. It helps regulate your heart rate. If you breathe in a relaxed natural way your body and your brain will function properly and you will perform better. Relax and breath when you play.
Your body will breathe when necessary. Holding your breath is unconscious and shouldn't hurt but try not to think about it. You have enough to think about. As was mentioned before try to relax and think about playing and not breathing. Phewww. I typed all of that on one breath.
I was telling Tom Grossett about this in his playing thread. I have to go to work but later tonight I will go into detail about what I've learned/discovered. I used to hold my breath for my phrases, because I'd read Buddy Rich saying he did that because he wanted to phrase like a saxophonist. I totally don't hear it in his playing, and I find (now) that it makes me a worse player.
I used to have this same problem. I always try to keep my breathing even now. I find that it's actually easy with practice. I spent some time studying the breathing techniques used in meditation, etc, and apply those to the drum kit. It's very relaxing, and helps me keep my grip loose, etc. I also find that if I ever do tense up, I notice it right away, because my breathing gets off, and I start to feel the effects of that change, so I can calm down, back it off, and get back to a relaxed state. Also, I instantly found I could play and practice for much longer time periods if I was breathing properly.
I've never held my breath ever when playing. I've never even thought about it. I just... you know.. breathe.
But from other experiences, the more you think about controlling your breathing, the more you will. Breathing is one of those things that you can control, but will work naturally anyway - like blinking. If you start thinking about how often you're blinking, then you'll be controlling your blinking for a while. If you start thinking how often you're breathing, then you will start controlling that.
Just stop thinking about it. Let your body functions do what they are made to do. If you don't take charge of your breathing, you still will breathe....eventually.