*means meaning coming up ahead.
Let us begin by understanding how we breathe in our normal, day to day lives?
We constantly breathe, in an unbreakable loop, till the day we die. So, how does breath work in our bodies?
I am going to start by telling you - that you are a balloon. No shame, it’s just what each one of us is. So what happens to a balloon when you fill air into it?
Does it contract or expand?
It expands. Breathe In = Expand.
And what about when you let air out of a balloon?
Does it contract or expand?
It contracts or deflates. Breathe Out = Contract/Deflate.
Now the most important thing is out of the way. And don’t worry if you have been doing it “the wrong way”, because the best of us have been breathing this way for years and years, waiting for someone to tell us the other way of going about it.
Don’t you think - Our education in schools and colleges must include body awareness, daily—simple facts about our bodies (like how to breathe and make it practical as well), meditation and so much more than what they give us today? We would feel so much more human and closer to this world if we were given this simple education as a part of our "curriculum". But what we are given instead, is only the “societal ways” - of running after feeling intelligent and learning how to earn. Happiness is a part of survival. Don’t you agree? We need a balance of these two categories in our education system!!!!! BALANCE.
My ranting is over, and I am back on the topic. If you’re still reading, I am grateful.
Breathe In = Expand.
Breathe Out = Contract/Deflate.
Next comes, how does our body breathe? Like, what do we deflate? What do we inflate or expand?
Here in the diagram, we have the nose, mouth, trachea, lungs and diaphragm.
We breathe in through the nose or the mouth.
That air then travels through the trachea, commonly known as the windpipe.
Through the trachea, the air reaches our lungs moist and warm. The air then expands the lungs from all directions.
Just below the lungs, we have an involuntary muscle* called the diaphragm.
Involuntary muscle - meaning the muscle that moves without any conscious control. For our case, the diaphragm can’t move on its own, the movement of another organ (lungs) moves it.
The movement of air filling into our lungs, demands the lungs to take up more space, which moves the natural position of the diaphragm downwards so that the lungs can have more space to hold the air they have filled in.
After breathing in, what do we do? Yes, we breathe out. So, in singing - After breathing in (to sing a phrase), what do we do? We sing the phrase.
Breathe In - Breathe Out
Breathe In - Sing
So, where is our "breathe out" while singing?
Recap: The air we inhaled had reached the lungs, expanded them, and in turn pushed the diaphragm downwards, because the lungs need more space now, as they have become bigger (inflated) with the air filled in them.
Once again referring to Fig. 1., while breathing out during singing:
The air from the lungs moves out slowly. The lungs start to relax and contract.
As a result, our diaphragm slowly moves back to its relaxed position (refer Fig. 2).
The air then goes through the trachea, reaches a place called the larynx*, commonly known as the voice box.
The larynx has your vocal cords, which are two tiny smooth muscles tissues - that produce our speech/sound while talking or singing.
Due to the excess air pressure from our lungs that reaches our tiny, closed vocal cords, the forceful pressure of air from down below causes the cords to flap together and vibrate, hence producing sound.