Here's the number 1 basic exercise for taking control of Lower Chest breathing.
- Lie flat on your back with arms by your sides
- Place one of your hands on your solar plexus area.
- Spend a few minutes just allowing yourself to relax, and your mind to calm.
- Become aware of the movement of breath in your body... the hand on your midriff will be slowly rising and falling as the air flow in and out.
- Feel how it is the gentle expansion of the lower (floating) ribs that initiates the inhale cycle.
- Now in your mind begin a count of 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 repeating, a nice easy tempo (90 bpm).
- For a while (maybe 10 cycles) breathe in to the count of 4, and out to the count of 4.
- Then start to hold the breath at the top and bottom of each cycle: Like "In - 2 - 3 - 4 , Hold - 2 - 3 - 4, Out 2 - 3 - 4, Hold - 2 - 3 - 4..."
- Repeat for a while, then go back to simple inhale- exhale without the hold.
- Now on the exhale, allow the cords to close 3 times like 'Ho Ho Ho', just gently dividing the exhale into 3 segments. Make sure the back of the jaw is dropped in the singing position.
- After a while, change the sound to a continuous mmm, just whatever pitch is confortable. Feel how the air from the bottom of the lungs connects to the mechanism in the throat.
- When you are done, relax a minute, roll over and gently sit up.
This is an example of 'indirect control,' a concept we use a lot in singing. We have taken an action (lay on the back etc) in order to trigger the body into a certain action (implement Lower Chest breathing).
Much of the control of the singing voice is done by similar indirect means. Cord closure, head-chest balance, intensity are all indirectly controlled.