Singers study breathing as though they were trying to learn how to push out the voice or pull it out by suction. By standing in a sensible position with the chest high (but not forced up) the lung capacity of the average individual is quite surprising. A good position can be secured through the old Delsarte exercise which is as follows:
I. Stand on the balls of your feet, heels just touching the floor.
II. Hold your arms at your side in a relaxed condition.
III. Move your arms forward until they form an angle of forty-five degrees with the body. Press the palms down until the chest is up comfortably.
IV. Now let your arms drop back without letting your chest fall. Feel a sense of ease and freedom over the whole body. Breathe naturally and deeply.
In other words, to “poise” the breath, stand erect, at attention. Most people when called to this “attention ” posture stiffen themselves so that they are in a position of resistance. When I say attention,— I mean the position in which you have alertness but at the same time complete freedom, — when you can freely smile, sigh, scowl and sneer, — the attention that will permit expansion of the chest with every change of mood. Then, open the mouth without inhaling. Let the breath out for five seconds, close the mouth and inhale through the nostrils. I keep the fact that I breathe into the lungs through the nostrils before me all the time. Again open the mouth without allowing the air to pass in. Practice this until a comfortable stretch is felt in the flesh of the face, the top of the head, the back, the chest and the abdomen. If you stretch violently you will not experience this feeling.