How to Inhale and Exhale

Although breathing is a natural act, in voice study, we consciously direct the air flow initially into the vocal core. After the upper body is fully inflated, the lower body and diaphragm engage to provide more breath support. All advanced breathing techniques depend on the fluid breathing in the vocal core. 

How to inhale and exhale mp3

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Your chest naturally rises and falls with the in and out flow or your breath. No special effort is required.

Full breathing capacity of the upper body is often obstructed by habits of poor posture, gesture and personality patterns. These habits may work fine for everyday vocal expression, but they obstruct the proper alignment and ease for healthy vocal production.

Inhale = Air In

People often associate too much effort with the word, “Inhale”.  Don't pucker your lips or tip your head back.

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

We will use the words, “Inhale”, “Add Air”, “Air In” interchangeably with “Inhale."

Exercise: Inhale


- Look into the mirror

- All points of the vocal core are in open and released position. 

- Maintain focus upon the movement of the breath into the chest, mouth and head. 

- Mouth closed and relaxed. 


Breathe in slowly through the nose with mouth closed and relaxed.

- Inhale into the vocal core slowly, as though inflating a balloon.

- The flow of the breath is slow with no jerking movements.

- Gulps? Slow your breathing speed even more and you will find a smooth, fluid motion.

Exhale = Air Out

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.

Why are we talking about the chest instead of the diaphragm?

You may have heard that voice study requires diaphragm breathing.

Yes, in voice training, we do learn to consciously work with the diaphragm, but it is a more advanced movement that depends upon freedom in the upper body.

Diaphragm breathing is involuntary at this stage of the breathing/voicing process and we will address it after:
1) Tension in the vocal core is dis-entangled.

2) The lower part of the body is properly aligned with the open posture.

It is pointless to work with diaphragm breathing before the upper body is free of tension because tension and resistance in the upper body prevents the full use of the diaphragm.

We will address stance and posture in the next series of lessons.

Exercise - Air Out


- Look into the mirror

- All points of the vocal core are in open and released position. 

- Maintain focus upon the movement of the breath into the chest, mouth and head. 

- Mouth closed and relaxed. 


Slowly deflate your upper body, as though it were a heart shaped balloon. 

- Do not push the air outward. 

- Head, neck, shoulders and chest are moved passively by the movement of the breath.

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


There are likely to be a few places during the exhale where you will be tempted to engage effort in the head, neck or chest. When you notice tension movements, simply slow the motion of the exhale and release these unnecessary entanglements. Then, resume the breathing exercise.


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


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

Pay especial 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.  

Steady, even flow

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 core are counter productive to the natural movement of your breath and voice. 

Exercise: Inhale and Exhale

Inhale and Exhale exercise  mp3 (6:02)

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  • 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. 
    - 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 mis-alignments that will later translate to leaks in the breath pressure. (This causes an uneven vocal tone.)
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