Breathing exercises are a critical part of voice and speech training, but they also have broader application as relaxation techniques. Here’s one of my favorite breathing exercises I picked up from an audio book by Karla McLaren.
It’s really simple, quick, and wonderfully effective for relaxing, centering, and grounding yourself before an important meeting or presentation or at any moment. You can do it standing, seated, or even lying down. I call it breathing down through your body.
Many breathing exercises and relaxation techniques recommend breathing through the nose, and that’s fine, but for voice and speech you’re going to breathe in through your mouth, so that the breath going in is opening the same channel through which the sound will come out.
To begin, breathe in and imagine filling your head with breath so it expands. Then exhale out of your chest and shoulders, feeling that area contract. Breathe into your chest and shoulders, feeling that area expand. Breathe out of your upper belly, feeling that area contract. Breathe into your upper belly, feeling that area expand. Breathe out of your lower belly, feeling that area contract. Breathe into your lower belly, feeling that area expand. Then imagine exhaling down through your legs and into the ground. Now, breathe in through the top of your head and imagine that breath travelling right down through your body and into the ground.
That’s it! You can repeat that process as often as you wish. Most breathing exercises I teach are somehow connected to sound, but this one just involves breathing. It’s one of my favorite relaxation techniques. I do this in the morning as a preparation for meditation. I do this between clients as a way of clearing myself and getting ready for the next appointment, and I do this at night when I am lying in bed getting ready to sleep.
This would be a great way to calm and center yourself before an important meeting or presentation because you can do it even when you are with other people, and it takes less than a minute.
As a speaker or presenter, you should have a short list of favorite breathing exercises and relaxation techniques that you can use at any moment to get yourself into a relaxed, open, and engaged state of being, thereby enhancing your performance.
For more relaxation techniques and breathing exercises, click the link below and download the free booklet and video series The Sound of Success.