How to Inhale and Exhale

Observe the natural flow of your breath as in the upper body, your vocal core. 

Your chest naturally rises and falls with the in and out flow of your breath. There is no special effort required. This easy, fluid breath motion is the basis for all breathing study.

Easy, natural breathing

The air simply enters and leaves the upper body without affecting the open positions of the vocal core.

When the points of the vocal core remain open, the air will enter the resonant spaces of the vocal core, and the upper body will expand. If a point of the vocal core begins to close, the entire vocal core follows.

Inhale - Air In - Inflate

We will use the words, “Inhale”, “Add Air”, “Air In” interchangeably with “Inhale." People often associate too much effort with the word, “Inhale”.  

To avoid the common mistake overworking the inhale, it’s more productive to imagine that your chest inflates like a balloon; in one, smooth and steady movement of air/breath.

Exercise - Inhale - Inflate

Preparation:
- All points of the vocal core are in open and released position.
- Look into a mirror.
- Maintain focus upon the movement of the breath into the chest, mouth and head.
- Mouth closed.

Exercise:
- Inflate the chest like a heart shaped balloon.
- Breathe in slowly through the nose.
- Smooth and even flow of air in and out of vocal core.
- No sudden, stopping or jerking movements.
- Gulps? Slow the rate of your breathing and the jerks, twitches and gulps will become fluid.

- The breath is silent. Silence means there is no resistance or tension in the larynx.
- Lips are closed, relaxed and not puckered.
- No effort. Do not suck air inward or push air outward. Pull the shoulders, head or chest upward.

Exhale - Air Out - Deflate

One of the most common errors in breathing, is to waste effort on the exhale. Often we will push the air outwards, collapse the chest and shoulders. When this part of the vocal body collapses, there is no place for the air pressure to build, nor to resonate the sound waves. 

Instead, you must have a smooth exhale, without effort, because a properly aligned exhale, prepares for a properly aligned inhale.

If you collapse the upper body or push the air out on the exhale, then, in the small amount of time between vocal phrases, you will have to both raise the chest AND inhale. There simply is not enough time to do both.

Your exhale should be even and steady, without disturbing the resting position.

Exercise - Exhale


Preparation:

- All points of the vocal core are in open and released position.
- Look into a mirror.
- Maintain focus upon the movement of the breath into the chest, mouth and head.
- Mouth closed.

Exercise:

- Deflate upper body like a balloon.
- Do NOT push the air out.
- Head, neck, shoulders and chest are moved passively by the movement of the breath.

- Mouth remains passive. Resist temptation to ‘blow’ the air out.

Observe

There is likely to be a few places, along the exhale, where you will be tempted to engage effort in the head and chest. 
When you notice movements of head, neck and chest towards effort, simply slow the movement of the exhale and release those actions. Then resume the breath exercise. 


Head

The head does not move from its rested, horizontal position when you inhale or exhale.

There is often a tendency to cock the head up and back during the inhale. But this pulls the vocal core out of alignment. Instead, you will rest the head in its proper position as the air pressure builds and allow the air to pass into the proper resonant spaces.

Lips

Lips and muscles around the mouth remain at rest. Do NOT purse the lips as though to suck the air in or blow outwards.

Larynx

The breath is silent. No sniffing, gasping, or snorting. If you make a sound when you breathe, there is tension and resistance. 

Pay attention to your larynx. Are you pressing inward?  If you make sound in your larynx while breathing, simply slow your breathing pace. .

 When you slow the speed of the inhale, you will discover a perfect rate at which the larynx will release and allow the breath to silently pass. And you will be left with an easy, effortless and silent inhale.  

Even rate of speed

The upper body should inflate and deflate at an even rate with no obvious fluctuations in the speed. No jerks, twitches or small gasps.

No effort

Allow your breath to easily inflate and deflate your chest without extra effort. Efforts to draw breath in or push it out of the vocal care are counter productive to the natural movement of the breath and voice.  

Summary

  • Inhale

    - Inflate and deflate the upper body naturally, with no extra effort. There is a natural, easy flow of air in and out of the upper body.

    - Do not suck or draw the air in.

    - If you use effort in lips, face or shoulders in order to breathe: Slow the flow of the breath until the cycle of the breath becomes a fluid, smooth circle air in and out.

    - All vocal release points are open and remain at rest.
  • Exhale

    - Allow the air to easily exit the upper body, as though deflating a balloon.  Without extra effort.

    - Do not push the air out.

    - Do not collapse the upper body. It deflates naturally, on its own. No extra effort is needed.

    - All vocal release points are open and remain at rest.
  • Remain conscious of when the first locks and old habits begin to reassert themselves.

    - If a lock closes, slow the cycle of the breath and slowly work from just above and below the breath level where the old pattern re-engaged. Release the lock and then slowly inflate up and through the old pattern until the lock can remain open.
  •  Inhale and Exhale movements are smooth. Twitches indicate that there are mis-alignments that will later translate to leaks in the breath pressure. (This causes an uneven vocal tone.)

Why are we talking about the chest and NOT the diaphragm? 

Diaphragm breathing is involuntary at this part of the process. Yes, in voice training, we do learn to consciously work with the diaphragm, but not until 1) all tension is gone from the upper respiratory, and 2) the lower part of the support body and posture are properly aligned.

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