In many breathing exercises the student is instructed to put their hand on their belly and feel their belly fill with air. But, there is never any mention of the ribs swinging open at the same time. For singing we need the bottom of the ribcage to expand which lowers the diaphragm and thus causes the belly to lift up. It is important not to miss the correct sequence of inhalation, which is the ribs swing open and then the belly expands. This takes place almost concurrently, so don’t feel alarmed if you feel them happening at the same time. If we only feel the belly open but the ribcage stays closed we are only allowing the lungs to expand downward and are depriving the body of breath capacity. We are also not engaging the costal muscles of the voice, which are also important muscles of breath support and vocal power.

Lie on your back and put one hand on the belly and the other hand on the side of the ribcage. Inhale and feel how the ribcage naturally swings open and the belly lifts upward. Continue to breathe feeling the rib-swing and belly movement. Continue rib- swing breathing until you feel that you have a good awareness of this movement. Slowly roll to one side still focusing on the rib-swing. Slowly, sit up, still focusing on the rib-swing. See if you can rise to a standing position still feeling the rib-swing. Notice the tendency to hold the breath while moving. This is a physiological activity that should be taking place in our body at all times when we breathe, but we have become disconnected and unaware of this process and our body no longer breathes as a whole entity. But, don?t despair, the good news is that the body likes to breathe this way and will take to the new behavior most readily.