The bottom of your breathing cycle is as important as the top. It also happens to be a common place where we add unnecessary tension. We're going to slow your breathing rate and observe this important and powerful place.
Larynx rests at the bottom of the breath
The bottom of the breath, at the end of the exhale, is a common point when the muscles around the larynx move inwards to close off the air. You may not even notice this slight inward motion in your larynx, but it feels a bit like a grunt, or as though you're 'bearing down'. It's not healthy and it serves no good purpose whatsoever. It's just a nasty old habit that impedes your breathing.
Remain MINDFUL because the bottom of the breath passes by so quickly!
It is common to lose focus at the bottom of your breathing cycle, as it is not as obvious as the Top of the Breath. Yet, if you follow your breathing cycle around through every degree, you will find that magical moment at the bottom of the breath where your breathing changes direction from an inhale to an exhale. When the larynx remains neutral, you are able to draw more air inwards.
The vacuum at the bottom of the breath
Slowly exhale your air until you are almost out of breath. Notice how you have an urge to breathe in and refill. This sensation of no breath, of need to inhale is called the, "Vacuum." This vacuum is a powerful sensation that works to draw the air back into the lungs.
We learn to work with this vacuum sensation. Instead of panic when we're out of breath, we learn to trust that the inhale will occur on its own. When we're stressed about being out of breath, we tend to close off our larynx. Which, of course, you've already learned is a big NO NO.
In this unit we're going to isolate the bottom of the breath and befriend this vacuum, out-of-breath sensation. We will learn to allow the vacuum to do its work as we get out of the way and release any associated tension.
Exercise - Bottom of the Breath
All release points of the vocal core are in their resting position.
- Mind is focused on the small, inward sensations of breath in the vocal core.
- Eyes are open and in soft, relaxed gaze.
- Lips are closed and relaxed.
- Teeth are parted.
- Jaw falls from the face and creates a small space between the teeth.
- Horizontal line between the ears. Head is not tipped to either side but rest in a horizontal position.
- Back of head is soft, without tension.
- Tongue rests flat on the floor of the mouth.
- Larynx is passive, moist and dis-engaged. Breath is silent.
- Chest rises and falls with the flow of the breath. Shoulders don't move.
- Establish a consistent, easy breathing cycle. All inhales rise to the same level of air volume, "Comfortable Full." All points of vocal core remain in their resting positions.
- Reduce size of breathing cycle to 50% capacity:
- Follow the newly sized breathing cycle through all degrees of motion: Air In to 50% of capacity- Top of the Breath - Air Out - Bottom of the Breath. Repeat.
- Slow the breathing cycle and explore the sensations at the bottom of the breath. Especially the sensation of the vacuum.
- Notice how the vacuum at the bottom of the breath naturally draws your breath inward.
- Search for any urges to close the throat, grunt or bear down. Release.
- Explore how the points of your vocal core can remain at rest at the bottom of the breath. Notice any urge to use effort in the vocal core.
- Remain conscious and aware at the bottom part of your breathing cycle. This has previously been an unknown place. Once you become aware of this important point in your breathing cycle, you will learn specific techniques to help you draw an even bigger breath.
- Larynx and all parts of vocal core do not move out of place at the bottom of the breath.
- Feel the power of the vacuum as it draws your air inward.
Bottom of the Breath - The end of the exhale.
Breathe freely - Non-coached breathing. Allow the air to come and go from your body until you feel oxygenated and without tension.
Vacuum - The place at the bottom of the breath where you feel completely out of air.