I love singing. It’s an engaging and freeing activity that when combined with good technique allows you to connect with your body and the world around you.
Feeling Connected – Technique, why bother?
When you’re singing in the shower you’re highly unlikely to be using singing technique. Nevertheless, you are relaxed, you’re smiling, you’re releasing endorphins and you’re feeling good. But are you connected? When you use good singing technique you have to become aware and be connected to your body. This allows you to achieve the best sound you can possibly make. To do this you have to be present in your body – your actions are no longer passive events. Doing this, you being to cultivate a relationship with your breath, your lips, teeth, muscles, and your centre. Singing becomes a total body experience and you’ll never want to go back.
Warming up your voice is very similar to meditation. No, I’ve not lost the plot. When you begin to warm up as a singer, you start with breathing. It prepares your lungs and muscles for the deep breathing and breath control that you need to sing. The aim is to become gently and fully aware of your breath and the parts of your body that are engaged when breathing consciously. There are lots of exercises to bring your breath into your conscious mind, but this is one of my favourites:
Breathe in for 4 slow counts
Breathe out for 4 slow counts
Breathe in for 4 slow counts
Breathe out for 6 slow counts
Breathe in for 6 slow counts
Breathe out for 8 slow counts…
You can continue this pattern for as long as you like, adding 2 counts onto the in and out breaths each time. Go with your body, don’t push too far, enjoy it!
Feel your lungs filling and emptying, your ribs swinging in and out, your diaphragm, the expansion in your chest. Try to keep your shoulders down and, bizarre as it sounds, breathe from the bottom up and… don’t make a single sound. Become aware of the earth beneath your feet, the strength in your thighs, the powerful shape you make when your feet are planted firmly on the ground, your shoulders are square, your spine is aligned and your head is level and proud. Enjoy the feeling. Visualise breathing in love and breathing out tension and stress.
Sit with this feeling, try to hold it when you continue your day, feel the connectedness to your body and the earth as you interact with people. Try it on your lunch hour, use it to reconnect and become present in stressful situations, have a go in the bath and sink deeper into relaxation and bliss.
When you do this exercise regularly, it becomes easier to slip into the feeling of grounding and connection. It also expands your lung capacity and encourages good lung health, which can only be a plus. If you’re a smoker or have a pre-existing lung condition, please start slowly as you may feel lightheaded more easily and find that it makes you feel like you need to cough. This is unpleasant at first, but good in the long run as you are beginning to expel the stagnant toxins and contaminants that sit happily at the bottom of your lungs and rarely get an airing. You’ll gradually become more comfortable with the feeling and start to enjoy the sensation of your lungs filling and emptying. This exercise can also help you to feel more awake and energised if you’re feeling sluggish, as breathing deeply carries a greater volume of oxygen to your brain and body tissues.
From a personal standpoint, I had a serious chest infection in March 2009, it put me in hospital for 3 days and it damaged my lungs fairly badly. It can take up to a year for damaged lung cells to fully regenerate, but doing this excersise regularly has allowed me to dump the steroid inhalers and long acting ‘reliever’ inhaler that I depended on when I was first released from hopsital.
Give it a go, and tell me what you think. Most of all though, have fun!