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By Selena, 10/01/2020, Category:Breathing and Posture
Breathing seems to be one of the most common topics that singers want help with.
It’s understandable, in a way: although breathing is natural, we make special demands of it when we sing. We need full quick in-breaths, yet long, controlled, sustained out-breaths.
I find that a lot of people are out of balance with the way they breathe for singing – either they try to ‘take’ or ‘suck in’ breath with too much, inappropriate, effort; or they under-breathe, i.e. they don’t allow enough breath in.
A bit like Goldilocks – too much or too little. But we need it to be ‘just right’, to make singing your easy and flowing!
So, of course, breathing right for singing is about both inhalation and exhalation, but what I’m going to talk about today is to do with the in-breath. A lot people breathe too shallowly, so then of course they have less air available to sustain the line of song, and they’ll end up running out of breath too soon.
Our in-breaths need to be quick, full, deep and automatic ( i.e we shouldn’t have to put our conscious thought into making them happen, as this will detract from our focus on communicating the song expressively.)
So what IS the most common problem singers have with breathing?
In order to let that breath come in quickly and deeply, we need to allow a ‘springback’ mechanism in certain muscles.
What’s the biggest aspect of this?
As singers we NEED to allow the abdomen to release. To spring back into outward position. ( i.e. tummy out). This enables your organs and stomach and all the contents of your abdominal cavity to move forward and down, which makes space for your lungs to expand as they draw air in. ( That's why 'breathe into your belly' is a genuinely useful idea)
The trouble is, SO many people are holding their tummies in! And /or, doing other things that also restrict abdominal release, such as locking the knees back or standing with their hips tilted forward (sway-back position).
So, let’s find out if this is an issue for you! Pay attention to the sensations of your breathing. Start to notice how your abdomen, and the whole of your torso, moves as your breath moves in and out.
( the abdomen is in fact not just the tummy area, but a sheath that goes all the way around your body, so pay attention to your abdomen from the soft area of your back at waist-level, your sides, and your tummy right down to your pubic bone)
Notice especially, what’s going on at the moment you are ready for an in-breath. Do you suck air in and work a lot in the throat and chest? What is happening in your abdomen?
If you ARE inhibiting your breath by not releasing the abdomen, you can shift this in a big way by just paying attention to this area, and keeping giving it the message to release at the start of every in-breath.
Abdominal release is what your body is designed to do, so you don’t necessarily have to use certain techniques to develop it, you just need to gradually hand the breathing back over to the natural, original habits of your body. To let go of your developed bad habits.
Many restrictive muscular tendencies are psychological, so to allow your abdomen and torso to freely expand for your inbreath, you may need to give yourself some mental and emotional messages too.
The in-breath is fundamentally about how we allow the world to enter us, or ‘in-spire’ us, how much we are willing to receive life energy.
So try these affirmations or adapt them in ways that work for you:
‘ I allow myself to receive the goodness of the world’
‘ I am open to life’
‘ I welcome life energy’
and say them on each in-breath. Notice if they help you release.
The benefits of freer and fuller inhalation are huge. Not only does it make your singing easier, but you’ll get more oxygen too as the breath travels deeper into your lungs. You’ll feel more expansive and peaceful. It will benefit your health.
So, to summarise, the most common mistake singers make with their breathing is to not sufficiently release the abdominal wall at the moment of inhalation. When we DO release it, a lot more air flows in freely.
We can remedy the issue to a large degree by giving ourselves the message, both physically and psychologically, to release the tummy and abdomen outwards, to allow expansion of the whole torso.
These messages are a gentle and vital starting point for helping our bodies to remember the correct muscular habits for breathing. We can also solve the issue to a more thorough and deeper degree with specific exercises, which you can learn in my ‘Breathe Right For Singing’ Essential Training Course.
This is a 4-week course which solves your breathing issues and sets up all aspects of your breathing pattern just right, to easily power your singing. Check it out here
Or if you just want some valuable but closely guarded FREE STUFF to help with your breathing, then register for my free video - 3 Little-Known Ways To Get More Breath For Your Singing - It can make an instant impact for you!
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