How To Inhale So You Can Get Much More Breath For Singing And Other Activities

By: Gen Wright

If a singer isn't getting enough breath upon inhalation the "fuel tank' is always near empty. With a car, we can drive with full power and control until it runs completely out of gas, but for singing, we always need a reserve to call on for high notes. or when we decide at the last minute to hold a note longer than usual, or make it louder. Almost all people breathe "shallow;" meaning they don't fill their lungs completely up on inhalation. ln fact, most "mere mortals" (non-singers) take in about one-half the air they are actually capable of, even though they feel like they're "packing it in."

Here are some relevant questions and answers concerning this problem:

• (question) So what are I doing wrong? I take a breath in, your chest rises up and expands when my lungs fill, and I sing until I
need another breath.

You're not doing anything wrong. It's just that there is a better way- a much better way to inhale. I pack all the breath in that my lungs can hold. How can I improve on that? The secret lies with something you just said: that your chest rises up when you breathe in. The chest must remain high and still during inhalation.

• How can my chest stay still when my lungs are in there? Don't they expand when they fill? Yes, but they expand downward, not up. Any noticeable expansion should be in the area of the lower rib-cage and the stomach-not the chest. When we breathe correctly our stomachs become "fatter" all around, even at the back. You mean my belly should come out when I breathe in?


•That's weird.

Not really. Actually. that's the way we were made to breathe. Watch a young kid breathe and you'll see their bellies move in and out. This continues until we are around six or seven years old. Then we begin to notice that our parents, family and friends breathe by raising their chests. (They learned the wrong way when they were children.). Since we all learn by imitation, we imitate; and we screw up one of nature's wonderful gifts. . .deep and healthy breathing.

• So how do I learn to do it again. I haven 't been six years old since, well, since I was six years old.

You haven't really ever stopped completely, because when you sleep you revert to belly breathing. That's because your conscious mind
has let go and your body brain does what it knows best.

• OK, but I can't sing while I'm asleep. How do I learn to belly-breathe while I'm awake?

Here's a powerful exercise which never fails: Lie on your back on the floor-not on a bed or couch. You need a hard surface for this.

Stretch out. Press your fingers into your belly, just above the navel, and breathe deeply six times. Don't worry about how you are breathing. If you are relaxed and not trying too hard you will breathe at the belly. Your belly will expand outward as you breathe in, and collapse down when you exhale. After six deep breaths, stand up and try it. Six times standing up with your fingers pressed in just above your navel. Then lie back down and do it again. You need to do three compete cycles of this-on the floor-standing up; six deep breaths each place. Feel your fingers being pushed outward with each breath. Do this exercise at least once every day and your subconscious will get the message and begin to breathe correctly for you within a few Weeks. Once the change has been made you will continue to breathe at the belly forever, (or until you die-then it doesn't matter any-more, anyway).

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Want to learn more easy techniques to improve your singing? Download my powerful new FREE ebook: "TIPS & TOOLS FOR ALL SINGERS" at: Al Koehn is a nationally recognized voice teacher, known for achieving amazing results with simple techniques.

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