Abdominal breathing: WHAT is it, WHY do we do it and HOW to do it?
I seem to be talking loads about breathing lately, and I think this will be my last post about breathing for a while. I have been asked numerous times about why I talk about abdominal breathing…and also why is it important to breathe this way, especially during talking.
In an infant, the abdomen EXPANDS during inhalation. During vocalization, the abdomen CONTRACTS. Most adults have ‘lost’ this natural habit of effortless breathing. This is how you can retain your breathing, without the added speech demand. Most speakers do not realize how much more their voice can be enhanced when they breathe using their abdomen. Most singers do this naturally, however. speakers seem to really struggle with this concept.
Abdominal breathing allows for the diaphragm to expand, and allows for the rib cage to expand laterally, giving the speaker more air volume, for longer duration of controlled speech.
Ways on how to engage your abdomen when you are breathing
1) PULL in your abdominal muscles when blowing out air ( like blowing out candles )
Once all the air has been fully expelled, the abdominal muscles expand naturally and the adult inhales spontaneously.
2) Another method: Try the muscular way of just pulling in abdomen and pushing out abdomen. Once you feel you have a pattern of pulling and pushing muscularly, then focus on the breathing. EXPAND TUMMY(push) when breathing in. CONTRACT ( Pull) Tummy when breathing out. Keep chest still.
3) Sniff and blow. When people sniff, the vocal cords open up fully, allowing for maximal breath intake. Sniff through your nose and blow out through your mouth gently.
4) Imagine your tummy is collapsing in ( being pushed in) and say, “Phi Phi phi” with some effort. This should enable the tummy to be pulled in when saying “phi phi phi”. This also means that you are contracting your tummy when exhaling during, “ phi phi phi”.
5) Get on all fours, on the floor. as in a crawling position. Keep your back neutral, as in not sinking or too lifted. Relax the tummy, and just inhale and exhale gently. Your tummy should be expanding when inhaling and contracting when exhaling, without much effort.
Practice this breathing exercise for 10min a day, till it becomes an easy habit( without speech added to it),and soon you will be able to speak eloquently when using your abdomen to breathe:)