Method Acting and Proper Breathing
Written by Frank Muniz
When practicing method acting it is important to learn proper breathing exercises that can help you prepare and get more focused on interpreting a character and applying the technique.
In method acting, performers try to duplicate real life emotional experiences and conditions in an effort to recreate a life-like, realistic performance. Method actors draw or borrow from their own emotions, experiences and memories influencing their characters portrayal. this is the principle taught by most acting teachers today. When applying proper deep breathing exercises while practicing your method technique it can help you focus, relax and concentrate, resulting in a powerful emotional output.
What is proper deep breathing?
The deep breathing technique helps to expand the lungs and increases oxygen in the blood, all organs benefit from more oxygen and strengthens them. Daily practice of deep breathing has been scientifically shown to calm the nervous system, regulate heart activity, relax muscles and spasms, oxygenate the blood, reduce blood pressure ,stimulate digestion and helps to clean the body of toxins. I will like to show you a simple deep breathing technique practiced by many professional actors and athletes, these exercise helps them maximize and empower their performance.
The simple breathing exercise you are about to learn here is good to establish equilibrium between positive and negative currents throughout the whole body.
Start slow and with an open mind. You can do this exercise sitting down for best results. Please consult your doctor if you have breathing or lung conditions like asthma or other respiratory problems.
So before rehearsing or working on interpreting a character on the set or stage take five minutes and sit comfortably on a chair with your legs apart and your hands resting on your knees with your spine erect. Close your eyes and concentrate on your feet, then on your legs, your thighs, your stomach, then the chest, arms and finally your head. It should take you about two minutes to go through this concentration exercise. The purpose of this is to relax and establish an awareness of your whole body so that when you practice the breathing exercise, the effect of it reaches the whole body itself.
So next close your mouth and take a deep breath through your nostrils and hold it about twenty or thirty seconds smoothly without forcing it. Then exhale slowly through your mouth and rest for five seconds and repeat the exercise six more times.
It helps if you visualize your whole body being energized while holding your breath. Visualization will also help you later when you practice or apply your method technique which requires you to concentrate, remember or visualize a past emotional experience then apply (or flow) that experience to the character you are interpreting.
I’m assuming that most of you are familiar with some type of method technique, if not I hope I get the opportunity to write about it here later on!
But remember that as an actor you are married to your craft and should always look for ways to stay sharp and focused on your technique. Practice makes perfect!
Frank Muniz is a long time acting coach, actor, artist, painter, and author of the book:” Power Acting: A method technique for the modern actor” formerly of Las Vegas now living in the Dallas area. A yoga practitioner who has spent many years researching the benefits of yoga deep breathing with method acting. His book is the result of this research. You can visit his personal blog at: www.poweracting.blogspot.com