The Importance of Breathing

Today I’m going to talk about the importance of breathing in VO. You might be saying, well of course it’s important… I can’t speak without breathing, I can’t live without breathing. And yet, how is it that most people today don’t breathe correctly, including many aspiring VO talent. Why is it that the most basic foundation of life, like breathing, has become so difficult?

Not breathing correctly is making us sick, and keeping us sick for longer than we need to be. Not a good thing when you have a gig, or an audition. Not good when auditioning has become your way of life. And yet here we are, suffering from sinusitis, respiratory disorders, colds, insomnia, over exhaustion… so many problems that arise from our inability to breathe well.

By maximizing your breath you can have energy throughout the day, and stay healthier.

Now, who is ready to take 5 minutes out of their day, to make this happen? Everybody should be saying yes, but unfortunately only about 20% of you (in my 20 years of experience as a VO coach) will actually do this. Which is why you’ll continue to have problems with breath control in some of your VO endeavors. My advice to you is to be as conscious of your breath as possible throughout the day, not just when you are practicing VO.

We often stop breathing or continue shallow breathing, especially when we’re sitting at a desk, focused on a mind-oriented task. How does your posture look? Is it supporting your lungs, so that they can expand to their maximum capacity to intake fresh air? It is also important to be conscious of whether you are exhaling as much as you are inhaling. It really is all about balance.

It is interesting to point out that often, when people are depressed, they exhale more than they inhale, literally depleting their energy. When people are anxious or hyperactive, they inhale more than they exhale, which makes them overloaded, making them unable to let go. In order to balance this out, you must exhale all of your breath out. Exhale until you absolutely can’t anymore – and then notice how your lungs expand more fully on the inhale. The way you exhale directly influences the way you inhale. So in order to take in more breath, you must let more out. It’s like cleaning out your closet and getting rid of the clothes you haven’t worn in years, so you have more room to put better things in there. Breathing is like spring-cleaning for your body.

You can also practice conscious breathing while you are walking. You can breathe to the rhythm of your steps. This becomes a great walking meditation, even if you are walking within city blocks between work and errands. You don’t have to be in the forest to do this.

From an emotional point of view, when you take more air in you are actually inviting more of the world in, and when you breathe more air out you are putting more of yourself into the world. For many this is a very vulnerable place to be, and at first this may seem uncomfortable. It may even make you light-headed. But you will get really good at it in no time. And what felt like a vulnerability will turn into a strength. And because, through deep breathing, you are establishing a new relationship with yourself in the world, you are also making yourself more available as a VO artist. You will have better breath control and easier access to your emotional life, your wit, and your better self.