Hi, this is voice coach Robin with a singing tip called ‘Back to Breathing’. Years ago, I studied with a coach whose teaching made sense to me. He showed me that I was not breathing correctly, bringing my abdomen in and lifting my chest on the inhale instead of letting my ribcage expand outward and diaphragm downward on the inhale. He showed me several great breathing exercises that I have stayed with over the years. One exercise I call “Backbreathing” because I focus on filling up the back of lungs as well as the front.
I bend forward and lean my arms outstretched on a table or back of a chair, then concentrate on taking low, full breaths, filling up primarily the back area of my lungs. As I continue to breathe I take lower and fuller breaths. It gives you the feeling that you are breathing all the way down to your waist. Sometimes it helps to feel puffed in the back like you have a Batman cape on. You can reach forward with your arms and make this into a good stretch also. The front of the lungs are filling up too, and the abdomen drops down, but the main sensation is in the back. We have five lobes in our lungs, 3 on the right side and 2 on the left. This is because the heart is located on the left. I think most people think about breathing as something they do with just their front side. Many singers are taught abdominal breathing, but some tend to just let the lower abdomen expand outward without the ribcage expansion, which really limits their breath.
I like to do this exercise as one of my first warm-ups for singing. Many of my students have told me that this is their favorite because it is very stress-relieving, relaxing, and a good way to switch gears from the pressures of the day to their singing. It’s also a good exercise to do to calm stage fright. It’s very hard to have butterflies in your stomach in this position, and the throat can become very relaxed as you breathe. So have a great time the next time you sing, and let your breathing help you out!