When it comes to speaking (or singing) the foundation of our expression always lies in breath. It's breath passing through the vocal folds which creates the vibration & sound of our voice. The strength & ease of our breath determines our volume, phrase length, & influences the timbre & prosody of our voice.
By connecting to our breath we change both the way we sound & the way we are heard. For example, when someone is anxious or nervous they tend to increase their pitch & speed of speech. We all know what this sounds like because we hear the nervousness in someone's tone. If however, the individual re-connects to their breath while speaking they will instantly slow down their words, drop their pitch, & will become easier to hear & understand.
Below I outline two exercises that will help you connect your breath to your expression. The first is an excellent ‘in the moment’ practice that will help you speak with presence & clarity. The second is an exercise I find extremely helpful (particularly for women) in developing more weight & confidence in the voice.
Foundation Practice: Three Part Breath
Three part breath will help you develop more connection to your breath, your voice, & is the foundation for the 2 practices offered below.
Part 1: Belly Breath:
As you breath bring awareness to your diaphragm (belly). As you inhale allow the belly to expand & to then draw in on the exhale.
*If the belly is constricted you may do this practice lying on your belly which help you feel the connection to your belly) or lying on your back while watching your belly.
Part 2: Ribs:
When you find the diaphragm is moving with breath then allow inhale to continue expanding the ribs ~ similar to opening an accordion. Invite the ribs to open on both side & into the back body.
On the exhale the ribs draw in & then the belly draws in.
Part 3: Clavicle
One you have found that diaphragm & ribs are expanding on the inhale you may fill the lungs a little more causing the clavicle to lift slightly.
* Note that the shoulders remain relaxed.
On the exhale the clavicle drops, then the ribs draw in, & finally the belly pulls in.
Practice 1: Sigh to Sing/Speak
This practice can be done following the three part breath or on it’s own. It’ve very simple & very effective.
Step 1:Take a deep (three part) breath & let out a sigh.
Step 2: Repeat several times & become present to the sensations of ‘release’ or letting go.
Step 3: Speak from the Release: As you speak (or sing) connect to that feeling of release. Do you best to speak in a way where you can feel the release in your body.
Step 4: Use it during conversations! When you find yourself in your next dialogue speak in a way that allows you to fee that subtle sense ‘release’ in your body.
Practice 2: Connect the Root
This is an excellent practice to bring a lower pitch & more weight into the voice. This practice can be done standing, seated or (my favourite) lying down.
Step 1: Go through the ‘Three Part Breath’ Practice above.
Step 2: Once three part breath is easy extend the exhale in a long (all noises welcome) sigh.
Step 3: Notice how the clavicle drops, then the ribs draw in, then belly pulls in.
Step 4: When the belly begins to draw in add engagement & allow the low guttural tones of voice to come through
Step 5: Pause after the sound, relax breath effort, & let your system calm.
Step 6: Repeat as you like.
Step 7: Add this awareness into the ‘Sigh to Speak’ practice connecting a subtle engagement of the belly, with a sense of release in your speech.
Become a Student of Your Voice
These practices will help you create more awareness & congruence between breath & voice. During the day pause & notice how it feels when you are speaking, singing, or even yawning. By bringing attentions into these environments including; sensations, thoughts, & judgement you will begin see some of the patterns woven into your voice. Notice how this change when you connect to your voice to breath!
About the Author
Amy Thiessen is an international teacher, coach, & musician who focuses on helping individuals connect to their confidence, purpose, & self esteem through voice & communication. Offering a holistic approach Amy helps individuals uncover & overcome their unique blocks around voice & communication, connect to their self esteem & purpose, & ultimately express themselves in a way that is empowered & impactful.
1:1 coaching is the fastest way to overcome your blindspots & find deep & more impactful expression. Book a FREE consult to see how In Resonance Coaching can support your full expression today!.