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Country Vocals Lessons: Spirit - Yoga for Singers - Breathing Exercise

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We're talking about in the whole
singer mind, body, spirit world,
we're talking about the spirit focus.
And fortunately, this lesson touches
on spirit, and also on the body,
on the physical.
Its kind of an integrating practice.
I use yoga and have for
like the last 20 years
to practice breathing to practice focus.
I've found it to be
an incredibly valuable tool
in pretty much every aspect of my life,
but particularly as a singer.
So I wanted to share with
you some of my practice,
kind of my go to things that I do in yoga.
And I am not a yoga instructor.
There's lots of great yoga instruction
online that you can find so
I highly encourage that you find
some yoga instructors online and
continue to explore this world
if you're not into yoga already.
Yoga for singers can be applied in so
many ways.
It's a great practice to bring
your focus into your intention of
approaching the act of singing,
being a vocalist, clearing your mind.
It's a very meditative practice.
It's also an excellent way to practice
breathing to get in touch with your
breathing system and
really connect physically and
mentally every part of your body
that's engaged in that act of singing.
We're gonna start this lesson
with some breathing exercises.
And this will give you a chance to focus
as you approach the act of singing,
but also to calm yourself down.
Some of these are great
just relaxing techniques.
And they are also great for
helping you identify and
really be conscious of your breath,
which of course, is your fuel as a singer.
The more control you
have over your breath,
the more control you have
over your instrument.
These breathing exercises
are great to use, for example,
if you're about to go on and perform and
you just need a moment to focus and
really get in touch with
your breathing mechanism and
prepare to fill your instrument with air.
So before you would go
out on stage to perform.
When you get up in the morning and
you want to get ready for the day.
Sometimes I will just sit and
do nothing but breathing exercises for
five minutes and
it really wakes up my mind.
Kind of gets me focused, gets me in
a relaxed, but attentive state of mind.
So before you go on stage, when you
first get up in the morning, if you need
a moment to relax, you're stressed and you
just need to destress for a minute, and
of course, before you do any kind of
practice or exercises or rehearsal.
Breathing exercises are a great way
to kick off that moment where you
know you're about to go in and rehearse or
perform, and you just wanna get prepared.
This is like the bottom line go to.
Spend five minutes breathing in
a really focused and conscious way.
We're going to start our practice by
just focusing on some breathing exercises.
And [COUGH] you'll wanna find
a comfortable place on the floor where
you can sit cross legged And
kind of move around, kind of wiggle
your way around until you really feel
your tailbones connect with the earth.
You want to feel your tailbone nice and
solid on the ground,
and tuck your legs under one another
in a place that's comfortable for you.
If anything is uncomfortable,
don't worry about it,
just get into a comfortable position.
Some people put their legs on top of
each other, it doesn't really matter.
Just find a comfortable
cross-legged seated position.
Make sure your backbone is nice and tall.
You wanna imagine that your spine
is being pulled straight up
from the top of your head.
And open your hands on your knees.
We're gonna do some breathing exercises
here that are gonna help really engage
every part of your breathing system so
that you can really expand the amount of
air that you can put into your instrument.
And we're gonna start with
a very deep belly breath
that [COUGH] allows you
to really fill up your,
the lowest portion of your lungs.
And you can really feel your diaphragm,
that big muscle that comes across
the bottom of your ribcage.
You'll really feel how engaged your
diaphragm is in this part of your
So we're going to start with a big
exhale to empty your lungs of air and
then we're gonna take a big
inhale in through your nose and
really feel your belly fill up.
And you can really see, you want to
be able to see your belly fill up.
I'm gonna exhale again.
[SOUND] Push all the air out.
Now put your hand on your belly and
inhale through your nose and
really fill up your belly.
[SOUND] And exhale.
[SOUND] See how deeply you can inhale and
really feel the bottom of your belly.
And exhale.
[SOUND] Now take your other hand and
place it in the small of your back.
Now in addition to feeling your
belly up front fill with air,
think about filling your back,
the small of your back.
Feel the bottom of your spine,
push out towards the back so
that you're filling the deepest
part of your torso with air.
And you can feel the front and
the back filling out and back,
really filling with air.
Exhale [SOUND] and
inhale through your nose.
you can really see your hand moving out as
you fill that lower portion of your torso.
So we're gonna go from the deep
lowest part of your lungs.
Now we're gonna move up to the mid chest.
We're gonna fill up the lowest part and
then we're gonna expand front and
back and both sides of this
middle chest here, big exhale.
[SOUND] And inhale and fill the bottom and
then see how much air you can
bring in to your middle chest.
[SOUND] And you can feel this natural
rise happen in your chest as you focus on
filling your middle chest, and exhale.
[SOUND] One more time, and all the way to
the bottom, and then your middle chest.
[SOUND] Always keeping your neck and
shoulders completely relaxed.
You want to make sure that your breathing
and filling up all of your belly and
then your chest, but you're not engaging
your neck or your shoulders at all.
In fact, every other molecule of your
body should be perfectly relaxed.
So that only your breathing
apparatus is working.
[SOUND] Then inhale.
as you practice this you really start
to become conscious of every little
muscle that is part of this activity,
from way down here in your belly,
your diaphragm, the intercostal
muscles around your rib cage.
Now we're gonna move up into our
upper chest and we're gonna breathe.
Let's try just putting your
hand on your upper chest.
Now, let's just breathe into
the top lobes of our lungs and
just feel what that feels like.
[SOUND] When you're thinking about that
area, and filling just that area with air,
[SOUND] you can feel the top of
your chest rise as you breathe in.
And if you're thinking about keeping
your shoulder blades down and
relaxed and drawn back and
your shoulder blades touching
one another where you're really
keeping that upper chest open.
That's how you maximize your capacity for
[SOUND] One more inhale.
[SOUND] Now we're gonna try to put
all of these three parts together and
we're gonna do some complete breathing.
So that means all three parts
of this upper body here we're
gonna breathe in,
fill this bottom capacity with air.
Then fill the mid-chest with air, feeling
it expand front and back and side to side.
And then that last bit of lift
where we fill the upper chest and
you can feel your neck and
shoulders relax,
your shoulder blades come together,
really expanding your chest.
All the while, keeping the rest
of your body completely relaxed.
Okay, three complete breaths here.
Big exhale.
[SOUND] Complete exhale and
press that air out when you exhale so
you feel a complete [SOUND].
[SOUND] Get a little more air in.
[SOUND] Always inhaling and
exhaling through your nose so
that you get nice moist air.
Not through your mouth because
that will dry your mouth and
dry the air getting into your lungs.
Big exhale, press it out.
And then one last big inhale and
feel every section of your body.
[SOUND] Okay, so this is an exercise that
you can use to relax, focus and
really get in touch with
every part of your breathing apparatus.
So that when you get into singing
mode you've got the muscle memory of
connecting with just how much air
you can fill your instrument with.
I'm gonna say goodbye with one
last big filling up of air.
One last big breath.
Okay, go get it.