Voice Tip One: Am I Breathing?

November 20, 2013

“Am I breathing?” sounds like a ridiculous question on the face of it, but two areas that are greatly affected if we don’t have access to full breath are:

Being Heard without Strain. Often, when we become involved in an activity at a mental level—especially if there is some strong emotional content or anxiety in the activity—we will start to breathe more shallowly.  The diaphragm does not have its full range of movement and the lungs do not have full capacity. This means that your speaking or singing voice is not supported, and therefore other muscles will tense up to compensate as you  “force” your voice to be heard.  I find this is the number one cause of vocal strain in my own voice.  A supported breath is essential to a sustainable and resonant voice.

Emotional Expression.  When we breathe fully and completely, our diaphragms drop down into the belly and access all the wonderful unconscious and emotional material stored there, which gives rise to our most exquisite vocal expressiveness.  Breathe incompletely, and you lose access to that information, and therefore your authenticity of expression.


If you notice a slight or great lack of breath in the moment while using your voice at work or in a social context, simply stop and bring awareness to your breath for a moment (without trying to change it). Sometimes awareness is enough, and our bodies begin to shift things automatically.

-Yoga pranayama, qi gong, chanting and other body/meditation practices support embodied breath.

-There are many different techniques for working with breath as it relates to vocal expression. At Compassionate Community Voice, we offer both structured and spontaneous practices to help you evolve a more embodied sound.  Or see our list of resources on the Sound Info page.


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