THE WHISPERED AH
Alexander taught an exercise called, “the whispered AH.” Try it!
- 1. Sit comfortably, feet on the floor, in a quiet place.
- 2. Exhale gently to begin the cycle.
- 3. With your lips gently closed, draw the breath in through your nose while thinking a pleasant or amusing thought (this will enliven the zygomatic muscles, bringing lift to your system).
- 4. Allow your jaw to drop passively and let the breath out on a whispered "AH" sound.
- 5. Close your lips and repeat steps 3 - 5.
Notice what this experience brings to your mood and any physical sensations that come with it. Perhaps you feel a bit lighter, more expansive, grounded. This is a nice way to take a break from screen time and quiet your mind. Think of it as an organized sigh.
It took me years to appreciate the simple, yet universal benefits of this exercise. Take your time with it, and, if you don’t enjoy it at first, consider trying again another time.
When working with singers, I see the disadvantages of over-emphasizing the inhale. Singers feel compelled to get a deep breath, which they need to support the tone. Without exhaling adequately, though, each deep breath piles up on the last deep breath until the the glottis tightens with the accumulated breath. In voice talk it’s called, “stacking the breath.” That’s what happens to a greater degree when we hyperventilate. We are unable to expel the CO2 in our lungs, which can cause dizziness, tingling of extremities and difficulty getting a calm breath. The solution is to blow out! So when you feel that your breathing has become tight, or stuck, focus on the exhale!