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Are Your Neck and Shoulders Sore by the End of the Day? Part II

Nancy Daniels, Voice Coach


I
n this article, I want to show you how to take a supported breath and make it a habit.



In order to learn to breathe with support, I want you to place your hands under your rib cage and cough. The muscle that kicked out at you is your diaphragm. If you have ever watched a funny movie and laughed for two hours, you may remember being sore in that region afterwards. Another time you may remember this muscle is when you have had a cold with a hacking cough and, by the end of the day, you were sore in that area. Aside from those few times, most people do not use that muscle for breathing.

Look at the diagram below.




Again, with your hands under your rib cage, inhale through an open mouth and take the air all the way down to your diaphragm. Try pushing against your hands with your diaphragm as you inhale. If done properly, your rib cage will expand, front and back. If done improperly, you will suck in your mid-torso region, your diaphragm will rise/lift up (not expand), and your chest and shoulders will lift.

Supported breathing is very relaxing. The only things that will move are your diaphragm, expanding down and out, and your rib cage opening up.
[Notice I want you breathing through an open mouth. For the purposes of voice training, I teach all my clients to breathe through the mouth while practicing because in speaking we breathe through an open mouth. At all other times of the day, I expect my clients to breathe through the nose as they should be doing. I do not want anyone to become a mouth breather! Again, breathing through the mouth is normal in speaking or in singing.]

To see if you are doing this properly, it is a good idea to practice this technique standing in front of a mirror without your blouse or shirt on. Watch your shoulders. If they go up, you are not doing this correctly. If the tendons in your neck tighten, you are definitely not doing this correctly. Supported breathing is very relaxing. The only things that will move are your diaphragm, expanding down and out, and your rib cage opening up. The rest of your torso and neck will be pliable, very loose, no tension whatsoever.

Look at the diagram below.




The figure on the left is in a relaxed state. The diaphragm, marked by the dark line shaped like a hook, is at ease. The figure in the middle, however, is typical of incorrect breathing, in which the gut is sucked in, the chest is pushed out, and the shoulders are lifted up. Notice that for the figure on the right, however, the diaphragm has actually moved down and expanded out. The chest and the shoulders have not moved. What is interesting to note is the difference in lung capacity between the figure in the middle and the one on the right.


While diaphragmatic breathing is not difficult, the secret to getting its full value is to break your old habit of shallow breathing and instill deep, supported breathing 24 hours a day. And, one of the most effective ways to do that is to take a supported breath every time you answer the phone. Become like Pavlovís dog. Phone rings; you breathe.

The more situations in which you can place yourself to
While diaphragmatic breathing is not difficult, the secret to getting its full value is to break your old habit of shallow breathing and instill deep, supported breathing 24 hours a day.
take a breath, the sooner it will become a habit. I worked with a gentleman who was a taxi dispatcher, answering the phone on average 600 times a day. He made diaphragmatic breathing a habit very quickly!

Try breathing properly while doing other things, like standing in line, climbing stairs, emptying the dishwasher, walking the dog, ironing, gardening or just watching the news on TV.

Once you make supported breathing a habit, not only will the tension in your neck and shoulders disappear, but you will discover other changes in your life both professionally and personally. In addition, diaphragmatic breathing can add more than 4 years to your life because you are eliminating the toxins in your body (See Part I).

Diaphragmatic breathing is a luxury and one of the most important things you can do to make your life better. Make deep, supported breathing a habit and discover the best means for eliminating the overwhelming stress you deal with, day in and day out!





International Speaker and Voice Specialist, Nancy Daniels, has been involved in voice training since 1977. A graduate of Gettysburg College with a BA in music, she discovered the techniques for improving the sound of the speaking voice while in graduate school at American University in Washington, D.C.

In addition to her guest speaking engagements, Nancy offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice training and public speaking skills throughout the United States and Canada. For those are unable to work with
her directly, there is Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. For more information on voice training, future workshops, and
Voicing It!, visit her Voice Dynamic website.




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