A Simple Tool for Better Breathing

by Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. on March 7, 2016

I’m always on the lookout for aids to help with voice problems.  One came up on my personal Facebook page a couple of weeks ago that amazed me in its simplicity.  I immediately shared it on my professional Facebook page.

I’ve been teaching breathing for 40+ years, but I wish I’d had this tool years ago to use to help clients understand good breathing.  There’s something about this simple gif that illustrates it beautifully.

The gif helps you use breathing to relax (see below: Source: http://i.imgur.com/Huou7Gh.gif).  I’ve rotated the gif to help show you how this can impact your vocal delivery.

Breather

Imagine the top of the diagram is at the base of your breastbone.  Next, expand your stomach by inhaling, following the manner and speed of the gif.  Then exhale with your stomach coming in at the same speed.

One of the first things I notice using the gif is that it’s timed perfectly for a comfortable inhalation and exhalation.  I feel able to follow it with ease for a few breaths without feeling like I’m hyperventilating.

Another thing I notice is that it encourages me to slow down my exhalation.  This may not be true for you, but for me slowing down added to my relaxation.  I can feel my stomach coming in on the exhalation for a longer time with the gif.

Also, I notice that it focuses on taking air in by expanding the abdominal area completely, not just in the front, but in the sides as well.  By incorporating the sides into our inhalation, we get a greater supply of air.

If you’re confused about using the diaphragm for breathing, watch my video to see how I work with clients.  I focus more on expanding the stomach in the video, but the sides are important, as well.

Try using the gif to take three breaths before you go on the air.  Wondering what difference this breathing will have on your delivery?  First, by using it before you go on the air you’ll be more relaxed.  Secondly, you’ll  have more residual air in your lungs so that you can talk longer on one breath of air.  And finally, you’ll get more comfortable with abdominal-diaphragmatic breathing.  All three of these things will improve any voice so put this gif to work for you!

If you’d like to see more breathing exercises, ck out this post, and you can get many more in the fifth edition of BROADCAST VOICE HANDBOOK.  Find out about downloading it by clicking here.

 

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