Stillness at the Top of the Breath

Stillness at the Top of the Breath 

  • What is stillness?
  • Why stillness is important.
  • How to still your breath.

There is a moment of ‘no-movement’ of air at the top of the breath when your air current transfers from an inhale to and exhale.

This place of no breath motion is called, “Stillness”.  

The ‘still point’ has a clear sensation inside of the body. You may not have noticed it before. But when you slow the breathing cycle and focus upon the place between the inhale and the exhale, the sensation of stillness become apparent.

It is the split second when you can detect the change in air direction.

The "Still point," is a hidden point of secret power for your voice. Here, you will suspend motion of the breath, unwind tension and initiate important vocal movements.

Why Stillness is Important

There is one specific sensation that is like no other: Stillness. the zero Point. Your breath is moving neither in nor out of your nose. Stillness is a specific, clear sensation where your breath current is NOT moving. When you study voice, many things happen at once. The air moves in different parts of your body. You could easily become confused.

However, these three states: inhale, exhale and stillness are discernibly different from other sensations.

Once you know just these three stages, everything else becomes far less important.  You will be able to gain control and certainty of your breath with a few simple questions: 

- Is my breath still or in motion?  

- Is my larynx relaxed?  

- Direction? Is air moving into or out of my nose and vocal core?

These questions seem too simple to be important, but when the air pressure is moving in multiple directions simultaneously, you will be able to easily gain your bearings and make strong vocal choices.

You will make specific vocal movements AFTER you determine that your breath is still.

At stillness, the point of no movement of your breathing cycle, you will engage specific breathing techniques.

Much like the gears of a motor, you can't move directly from one gear to another unless you dis-engage the previous gear. You must get to 'neutral' before you can switch.

The same is true for voice breathing. The breath must be still before the next gear, or technique can engage.

Larynx and throat at rest

You don't need to make any special effort in your larynx or throat to "Still" the motion of the breath.

This is not a new skill to you. In fact, you do it all the time without knowing it. Now we are just bringing it into your conscious awareness. 

Simply inhale to a comfortable full level of air and and observe the place at the top of the inhale where the inhale shifts to an exhale.  Between the inhale and exhale you will detect the still point; a moment of no air motion, of stillness, between the breaths.

The larynx remains completely at rest. Your breath is silent. 

Simply think, “Still” and then notice how your larynx can remain at rest. And your body naturally takes care of the rest. There is no extra effort.

Don't "Hold" your breath!

Most of us have the tendency to close our throat and larynx when we "Hold" our breath. The word, "Still" We're going to avoid this habit by using the term, "Still" the breath, instead.

Never press inwards or compress the larynx in order to control the rate of the air current or the "Still" your breath motion. 

This is the most common place in our breathing cycle where we engage tension. And we usually don't even know we're doing so.

This throat closing motion is the one motion in voice making that causes the most damage, deadens your voice tone, and limits the high and low vocal range.  

Your ultimate training goal is to maintain an open, relaxed throat and larynx.

Exercise - Still the Breath

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In this exercise, you will learn to “Still” the breath without engaging the vocal core.

All points of the vocal core remain at rest, simply swelling and contracting in response to the air flow.  

  • Notice how your air current tapers off at the end of the inhale and then comes to a gentle still place before you reverse the motion of the breath and begin the exhale.

  • Explore this subtle, still place very slowly. You will find the section of stillness between the breaths isn’t a set amount of time. It is an non-timed moment between the motion of the inhale and exhale. Once you find this place, you will find that you can extend the space without closing the larynx or moving the breath.  
  • Preparation:

    - Home position
    - Establish an easy, comfortable, cycle of breath.
    -  Inhale all the way to Comfortable Full to establish a volume mark.

    Exercise:
  1. Still the breath at Comfortable Full.

  2. All parts of the vocal core remain at rest at the still point at the top of your breath. Check the larynx and throat that they remain in their resting positions.

  3. Notice if you make a sound when you begin the exhale. A noise in your larynx means that you have unconsciously closed your throat at the top of your breath. 

  4. Begin the next inhale slowly with your throat open and relaxed. Your full attention is trained upon on your larynx.

  5. Notice how you can inhale to a comfortable level of breath, then "Still" the motion of your air at the top of the breath and exhale without sound or motion in the larynx.

  6. Play with the space at the top of the breath, at the end of the inhale where the breath comes to a still point.

Goal:"Still" the breath without closing the larynx 
at the top of the breath.

Vocabulary

  • HOLD - To use unnecessary tension to maintain a position. For instance, instead of clamping and holding the larynx closed to still the breath, simply remain in place, without tension to still the breath. 
  • STILLNESS AT THE TOP OF THE BREATH - The place between inhale and exhale where the motion of the breath comes to a stop, without movement in the larynx and other parts of the vocal core.
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