Just breathe.

I’ve been getting my thoughts together about the differences between Western and Eastern performance traditions this week.  You can see my  very colourful thoughts here, in East vs West.



I’ve also been reading lots of Phillip B Zarrilli – check out my bibliography, below!



And going to yoga classes and thinking about the breath.  In yoga, we use the breath to set the intention at the start of the class.  Breath is used to ‘power’ (for want of a better word) the asanas – or postures. Breath is used at the end of the class to seal our practice. breath brahmari humming breath deep breathing hatha yoga classes in Cape Town Gardens southern suburbs rondebosch rosebank constantia meadowridge postures poses asana breath pranayama pr

Here’s an exercise in Abdominal Breathing, adapted from John Martin’s The Intercultural Performance Handbook:

Throughout Asia breathing has an important relationship not only with the body, but with the mind. Martial arts and exercise forms, such as Yoga and Tai Chi stress the importance that breathing has in the flow of the body. Exploring the link between breathing and movement is an excellent way to connect to a psychophysical state for performance.

  • To begin the exercise, stand with your feet hip width apart and place the hands on the abdomen. By applying pressure to the area with your hands, the breath should come up and out of the body
  • Hold your position for as long as is comfortable and then allow the air to come in all at once.
  • Repeat the action until you can feel your abdomen react to the breath and until you can feel a direct flow of breath from your mouth to your abdomen – without strain to the neck and upper chest area.

The exercise is a great way to centre the body in the performance space, but also to release tension from the upper back, which is caused by breathing too heavily into the upper chest.




Beyzai, B. 2017. Eastern Theatre, Western Theatre. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.tavoosonline.com/Articles/ArticleDetailEn.aspx?src=60&Page=1. [Accessed 15 April 2018].

Robert Cohen and Donovan Sherman. Theatre: Brief Version, 11th edition, Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2017; Chapter 7: Theatre Traditions: East and West, pgs. 187-199.

Watson, I., 2003. Towards a Third Theatre: Eugenio Barba and the Odin Teatret. 2nd ed. Abingdon: Routledge.

6057062ZARRILLI, P., 2009. Psychophysical Acting: An Intercultural Approach after Stanislavski. Taylor & Francis, Inc.

https://2710blog.wordpress.com/2016/05/24/explore-and-explain-the-influences-of-asian-theatrical-styles-on-western-acting-and-actor-training/. (2018). [Blog] Intercultural Influence on Acting and Actor Training.

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