Connect Body, Breath, and Voice with Expanding Butterfly Posture
We can play an active part in awakening our body, breath, and voice by doing exercises that support the respiratory process.
Today, I share with you exercise that I like to call the “Butterfly Posture.” Combining movement, breath, and sustained sound, this exercise can improve flexibility, strength, lung capacity and vocal tone.
As many of you know, my sweet Mom recently went in for heart valve replacement… surgery… 22 days later Mom is still in the hospital struggling to recover. While the heart valve is operating wonderfully, one area causing complications is her lungs. Fluid is gathering in the linings, and part of her lung is not fully inflating.
Respiratory therapists visit Mom’s room on a regular basis administering breathing treatments and she is encouraged to use the Incentive Spirometer.
A device that encourages…
“The patient to breathe in from the device as slowly and as deeply as possible, then hold his/her breath for 2–6 seconds. This provides back pressure which pops open the alveoli. It is the same maneuver as in yawning.” Wikipedia
As a singer, I am endlessly fascinated by breath, so… while I was with Mom in the hospital, I was able to ask Respiratory Therapists many questions about lung function and health. One point each of them made was that the lungs get “lazy.”
These medical professionals emphasize the importance of exercising the muscles supporting the breathing process, using a diaphragmatic breath, as well as practicing deep expansion into the lungs.
Wanting to encourage overall lung health and support my students and fellow singers… this desire gave me the “incentive” to share with you an exercise that supports the over all respiratory process… and your singing.
I will take you step-by-step through what I call “Butterfly Posture” exercise, starting with movement and breath, then adding sustained sound to the movement.
1. Watch the intro video for helpful tips.
2. Read the below blog post for more details of the exercise.
3. Watch the demo and follow along with me… my cat, Barnaby, makes a cameo appearance at the end 🙂
Warning: If you have back or neck issues, check with a doctor before you do this exercise.
Things to consider:
1. Grounded feet
2. Bent knees
3. Buoyant hips
4. Flexible Ribs
5. Relaxed Shoulders, Neck, Jaw and Tongue
1. Lift through the back and neck as you travel backwards… feel tall
2. Adjust movement to release tension
3. Be mindful of a low diaphragmatic breath
4. Move with the breath
How can this exercise help you?
Because you are exploring movement, breath, and singing in a new way, you may discover a unique avenue through which to…
1. Connect with your breath and your voice
2. Release tension in the body
3. Expand your awareness of your vocal instrument capabilities
4. Gain muscle memory that can transfer subtly into performance
When you sing, you may choose to be supported by your entire body. There are soooo many muscles that assist the breathing process.
Just for fun,with the help of one of my favorite resource books, “Anatomy of Breathing,” I list below (mostly in Latin) some breathing muscles that are engaged when you inhale and exhale.
(Ohhh, my goodness, our body it so cool!)
Muscle of Inspiration:
Muscles Involved with an Inhale:
Serratus Posterior Superior
Serrtus Posterior Superior
Muscles Involved with an Exhale:
Pelvic Floor: Ischioccygeus and Levator ani
Serratus Posterior Inferior
The rib cage “consists of more than 80 joints.” Calais-Germain
“The malleability of the thoracic cage is enhanced by the property that is unique in the skeletal structure – the ribs are deformable and ever elastic in their curvature.” Calais-Germain
The Spine: Neck, Rib cage, Lumbar region, and Scarum
The Shoulder Girdle: Sternum, Clavicles and two Scapulae
Organs Affected by Diaphragm Movement:
Heart (Pericardium) Liver, Stomach, Large Intestine, Small Intestine
“Every time the diaphragm moves, it will directly influence the organs, either individually or as a unit, changing their shape.” Calais-Germain
Aren’t you just so impressed by your awesome self! What an amazing creation you are!
Play with this exercise. See how it works for you. Explore. Discover. Adjust. Listen to your body and how it wants to move. Free up tension with movement. Feel your breath deeply connected to your body and your voice.
Embrace your inner butterfly! Let me know how it goes… share your feelings in the comment section below!
Thankfully, Mom is making daily progress. And as I receive hourly updates, I marvel at the intricacy of the human body and the delicate balance it requires to do its job. I also see so clearly how important it is to be proactive in supporting my body’s balance in my daily life; from food, to exercise, to mind-set. Mom is an amazing lady… so strong – and I have no doubt she will sing again.
Always Rejoice In Your Voice™!
P.S. Would you like to take voice lessons?
Email me today for your free 30-minute singing lesson and voice assessment in-studio or via skype – my email: email@example.com
I look forward to hearing from you!
Resource: “Anatomy of Breathing” by Blandine Calais-Germain