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Have you ever heard of the term “belly breathing”? It is often used in different disciplines such as yoga and of course, singing.
Obviously, belly breathing doesn’t mean that your air goes to your belly since that would be impossible.
When we talk about belly breathing, we are talking about the movement of the diaphragm. In this type of breathing the diaphragm contracts pushing the organs underneath it, and that allows the lungs to expand downwards.
As a result, when we breathe in the belly goes out, and that’s why we call it belly breathing!
Now, how does belly breathing benefit us? Well… the benefits are not only endless but also crucial for your well-being, and also for your singing to be genuinely expressive rather than shouty! If you learn to use belly breathing properly, that could be the key for you to stop feeling so tired after singing.
We find it hard to breathe with the diaphragm for a variety of reasons. Two of the most common reasons are:
Breathing in this way with our diaphragm takes little energy from our body -around 3%. This makes it a very effective and relaxing method of breathing; that’s why we naturally use it when we sleep.
Sometimes, if someone is really stressed, it can even be hard to do belly breathing even while they sleep!
So often people completely block their voices when it is time to sing. It doesn’t matter if it is in front of a big audience or in front of one person! Nervousness comes and the breath is shortened… from there it is a chain of events: our breath is reduced, we lose air support, we strain and tighten our voice resulting in difficulty singing, shouty or weak, and it becomes unexpressive because we are more connected to the fear we feel rather than to the words we are singing.
But you can always regain control of your breath again, and that way be in control of your instrument! Of course, it is easier said than done, but with deliberate practice, you will be in charge again (instead of your emotions being in charge!) and you will get numerous benefits not only for your voice but also in your day-to-day life.
Finding your belly breathing is not so hard. Lie down facing up and place a light book on your belly. Try to breathe in in a way that when you inhale the book raises.
In this position, this breathing technique should be relatively easy to find, although if you are really stressed it can also be a challenge and require more practice and alternative exercises.
Of course, when you are standing up you want to feel the same sensation. For that to happen the most important thing to consider is finding a posture that allows your diaphragm to move freely. You can check an easy exercise for that HERE.
Auckland Singing School is the way to go if you want to learn to sing from a holistic and integral approach!
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