Singing: How to Move Your Back for Better Breathing

Opening your back while singing helps your breathing — after all, your back (or spine) is connected to your ribs. So how does this help singers? Quickly opening your back helps air to fall into your lungs and aids inhalation. Remember that the lungs are connected to the ribs, so moving the ribs and the back moves the lungs.

Try this suggestion to quickly open your back for an easy inhalation:

  1. Assume a huddle position, as if you’re on the football team ready to hike the ball to the quarterback.

    In the huddle position, you stand and lean forward, with your hands on your bent knees and your back straight. You don’t have to bend over as far as the football players — only far enough to allow your back to relax.

  2. With your hands on your knees, take a breath and imagine that you can put the air into your back — as if your lungs are all along your back and you want to fill them with air.

    You may notice that the muscles in your back feel like they’re lifting and opening for the air to come in the body.

  3. Take a few more breaths and notice the sensations of your back opening.

  4. When you think you feel your back releasing and opening as you inhale, try opening your back more quickly.

    Open the same muscles along your back without worrying about inhalation. When you open the muscles, the air comes into your body and you don’t have to worry about inhalation — the inhalation happens because you’re opening the muscles.

You can also squat down and place your hands on your back to feel the movement of the muscles. If you have a practice buddy, ask her to put her hands on your back as you try expanding your back. Or you can ask her to try the same exercise so you can feel how her back moves. Feeling the movement of someone else’s body may help you know what’s happening to yours.

If the huddle position isn’t comfortable, try lying on your back with your knees bent to feel the opening of your back. Lie on the floor and feel the opening of your back along the floor as you inhale. Notice the movement of the upper part of your back and the lower part of your back, all the way down to your hips.

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