Most humans do not think about how they breathe, especially when they talk. Its become this spontaneous thing, which we are programmed to do, or are we?
If we look at babies when they are on their backs, we notice that they have fairly big breaths and their tummies rise and fall with each breath they take. Now when babies breathe, they are using abdominal breathing, or their diaphragmatic breathing.
Now all these words: Diaphragmatic breathing, belly breathing and abdominal breathing all pretty much mean the same thing. They all refer to not breathing using your chest muscles.
What is diaphragmatic breathing and why is it so important?
The diaphragm is a special muscle which is located between your lungs and abdominal cavity. When you inhale using your abdomen, the diaphragm contracts, hence letting your lung expand, and fill up with air. When the diaphragm comes back up, it expels all the air from the lungs.
Why diaphragmatic breathing? It does wonders for someone’s speech. It helps to soothe nerves and helps to add power and reduce the pace of someone’s rate of speech. This really helps with delivery of speech.
So the next time you are nervous, or are about to give a speech, take 5 diaphragmatic breaths ( which are not the same as deep chest breathing) and feel the difference in your nerves, voice and speech.
Now how do you breathe using your diaphragm?
- Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen.
- Imagine there is a balloon in your tummy, and inhale gently through your nose.
- The hand on your abdomen should rise up, and the hand on your chest should remain as it is.
- Notice your shoulders, they should not rise up and come forwards.
- When you exhale , imagine that you are blowing out a candle, so blow gently past your lips.
- Your hand on your tummy should go down.
- Repeat this about 10 times on your back, before bedtime, or as part of a vocal warm up before you start speaking for 5 breaths or so.