15 Yoga Poses and Breathing Exercises for Singers 500x300

15 Yoga Poses With Powerful Benefits for Singers

15 Yoga Poses and Breathing Exercises for Singers

You know how important breath support is for great singing — but are you regularly incorporating breathing exercises for singing into your warm-ups? Read on as voice teacher Shannen R. shares 15 yoga poses to try out, designed to help with various elements of your singing… 


Get ready to free your vocal cords of strain, increase your breath capacity, and get the strength you need for powerful belts and the control for soft tones. Going beyond simple breathing exercises for singing, the following yoga poses free your neck, shoulders, and spinal muscles of tension. Your breath and sound will move freely, and your core muscles will grow stronger so you can manipulate your voice.

15 Yoga Poses and Breathing Exercises to Try

1. Three Part Breath
Benefit: Strengthens your breath support for belting and long notes

People tend to breathe shallow and in one favorite cavity of the body. Learning to use all cavities of the body will give you enough breath for belting and for long, held notes. Start either lying flat on your back or propped up with two yoga blocks, one block at the highest level and the second block at the medium height.

2. Seated Breath
Benefit: Guides you to use your full breath capacity

While the Three-Part Breath teaches you how to breathe into all your front body cavities, now we’re going to explore our back body cavities to use your ultimate breath capacity. Start seated with your legs crossed and your feet flexed.

3. Eagle Arms
Benefit: Another breathing exercise for singing, this enhances your ability to hold belts

The hardest area of the body to breathe into is the upper back. To find breath here, we will practice eagle arms. This will also give you the ability to hold belts and soft, unwavering tones.

4. Kapalabhati Breath
Benefit: Activates your core and clears your sinuses 

In yoga we practice breathing techniques called pranayama. Kapalabhati breath, translated from Sanskrit to “breath of fire,” will activate your core and clear your sinuses to give you beautiful, open notes instead of nasal and strained notes. Repeat this for 5-15 continuous rounds.

5. Ujjayi Breath
Benefit: Supports evenness of breath

To hold long notes and maintain the correct pitch with an unwavering tone, your breath must be even. Ujjayi breath, another pranayama technique in yoga, is the practice of finding evenness of breath. Repeat for 5-15 rounds.

6. Neck and Back Twist
Benefit: Relaxes your muscles to reduce vocal strain

A lot of times when your voice strains to reach a note, your vocal cords are being pulled by tight muscles in your neck, shoulders, and back. To release these muscles, practice this easy restorative twist on a yoga bolster, a few stacked pillows, or stiff folded blankets. You may hold this twist for up to five minutes.

7. Seated Neck Stretches
Benefit: Relaxes the neck muscles to reduce strain.

Another way to stretch out the muscles in your neck is with seated neck stretches. These stretches will target the back and the sides of the neck, and can be practiced multiple times throughout a day.

8. Self Massage: Neck Massage Tool
Benefit: Another relaxation exercise for neck muscles 

One of my favorite neck massage tools is from Daiso, the most adorable Japanese store you’ll ever find. For this exercise you’ll need a towel and the neck massage tool, which can be purchased here or at your local Daiso store.

9. Self Massage: Neck Massage With Tennis Balls
Benefit: Another exercise for relaxing neck muscles

If you don’t want to buy the Daiso neck massager, you can use tennis balls to relax your neck, which will help you avoid strain and increase your vocal range.

10. Self Massage: Back Massage
Benefit: Relaxes the muscles in your spine 

If your spine is tense, EVERYTHING goes wrong. This is because your spine is connected to your brain and is in charge of relaying messages to your body. If there is any tension in the spine, it can cause blocks in the message pathways, and result in excess anxiety and other mental obstacles. Spinal tension can also cause postural problems, which limit your breathing and create muscle tension.

In the video below you’ll learn how to massage your whole spine with two tennis balls. Don’t be alarmed if it feels very tender the first time. Give light pressure and do not practice it for too long. The more you maintain a self-massage practice, the more comfort you will find.

11. Self Massage: Shoulder Massage
Benefit: Relaxes your shoulders, which can affect your neck, throat, and vocal cords

The shoulders can be a tough place to get! Nail those shoulder knots that are pulling on your neck, throat, and vocal cords with this massage.

12. Spinal Twist
Benefit: Relaxes your spine, creates better breath capacity 

Roll up a big fluffy towel and get ready for the cheapest and best spinal reliever of your life! Space in the spine will create more space for your breath to travel, giving you more breath capacity when singing.

13. Tadasana
Benefit: Relaxes your muscles to reduce vocal strain

The key to singing is good posture — I’m sure you’ve heard this a billion times. Tadasana, or mountain pose, teaches you how to stand correctly and builds the muscles needed to avoid hunching the shoulders forward or arching the back so the ribs puff out. Correct posture will help you avoid straining your voice, and encourages evenness of breath to create controlled sound and power for belts.

14. Puppy Dog Pose
Benefit: Lengthens the spine and leads to greater power and control when singing

A variation of the ever-so-famous downward facing dog, this pose will lengthen your spine, creating space in between each vertebrae, and is another great way to open up the shoulders. Space in the spine equals space for breath, which leads to more power and control when singing.

15. Back Release and Shoulder Opener
Benefit: Relaxes your spine, shoulders, and neck, and leads to a fuller vocal range

This forward fold and shoulder opener combo will have your spine, shoulders, and neck melting with relief! This pose will relax all of your throat muscles and vocal cords so you can access a full vocal range.

If you have any questions or if any of these stretching and breathing exercises hurt, make sure to check with a qualified teacher. Feel free to contact me through TakeLessons for additional help!


Post Author: Shannen R.
Shannen Roberts is a yoga instructor, singer, pianist and keyboardist, singer and songwriter, and founder of self-help site The Strange is Beautiful. She teaches in Valencia, CA, as well as online. Learn more about Shannen here! 


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A Santa-Approved Voice Exercise

Gifts?  Check.  Eggnog?  Check.  If you’ve completed your to-do list, it’s time to sit back and take a deep breath.  You’ve made it – Christmas is just around the corner, and it’s time to celebrate (and relax!) with family and friends.  From all of us here at TakeLessons, we hope you’re enjoying the holiday season and making the most of it!

One of our favorite parts of the season is all of the holiday music, and sharing that gift of music with others.  And of course – if you’re heading out caroling this weekend, make sure to warm up your voice, as with any practice session or performance.  Here’s a simple voice exercise sure to get you on Santa’s “Nice” list, courtesy of

You have probably heard many times that singing is all about breath support and airflow.
And you may think you’re singing with good breath support and airflow.  But if you’re getting tension in your neck and are unable to sing past a certain ceiling without “flipping” into the next higher register, you probably still have some work to do with breath.  Let’s get down to the basics for a moment.

Put your hand on your belly.
Spread your fingers wide so that you cover as much vertical area as possible.

Now, say “Ho! Ho! Ho!” in a percussive way.
Don’t worry about hitting any particular pitch.  Just focus on feeling your stomach muscles actually act, and expel air with each syllable.  Your throat is simply a passage the air goes through.  Let the air pass through without trying to “grip” it or control it with your throat muscles.

Your belly should go in, not out, with each syllable.
This is completely natural for some people, but not for everyone.  Just check to make sure.  (If you’re pushing your belly out with each syllable, how in the world are you pushing air up and out through your throat as well? Think about it…)

Once you are doing “Ho! Ho! Ho!” correctly, then do a variation:  “Ho! Ho! Hooooo…”
Hold out that last syllable for a second or two, making sure that you are still supporting your breath from your belly and not moving the compression and effort up into your throat just because you are now “singing” a sustained note.

How did the voice exercise go for you?   What other tips would you add?  Leave a comment below!

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You might also like…
Using Scales to Improve Your Vocal Range and More
Can Yoga Help You Sing Better?
Fine-Tune the Way You Learn Music


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Singers: How to Warm Up Your Vocal Cords

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Ancient civilizations discovered powerful truths about vocalizing and singing that are relevant to modern students of voice and song.

We all go through our daily lives speaking, humming, and singing some of the time without realizing the effects of things we do half-consciously.  Or maybe we just suspect it!  Well here are some facts!!

By focusing on singing, speaking, or chanting the vowels (A,E,I,O,U) we release a myriad of emotions in an uplifting and healing manner.

Chanting or singing mantras are based on vowel-combinations that when chanted in a particular way produce a vibrating effect on our entire system, our nerves, glands, and the brain.  Here are some vowel sounds to use for warmup drills.  Singers, performers of all kinds, and instrumentalists may benefit from using these simple exercises.

A (pronounced “Ah”)  Induces a state of calm, peace, serenity.  Resonates at the toop of the thorax and esophagus (upper chest). The vibrations have a healing effect on the heart.  A(pronounced as in “glass”) resonates in the upper part of the lungs.

E(pronounced “eh”)
  Develops self-confidence. It resonates in the neck, throat, vocal chords, teeth, and thyroid glands.

I (pronounced “ee”) is the vowel of laughter.  It resonates in the bridge of the nose and crown of the head, affecting the brain and organs of the skull.

O (pronounced as in “home”) Turns inward and gives the sensation of seriousness, completion, and perfection.  It vibrates in the lower part of the lung, heart, and stomach.

OU (pronounced “oo”) has a similar sensation to O, but sweeter.
It vibrates in the lower abdomen, affecting the kidneys and stomach.

Simple warmup exercises that help you get emotionally clear and refreshed:

  • Balancing the Whole Body:  A   E  I (pronounced ahh-ee)  O  OU
  • For the ears: ENN
  • For the nose and sinuses:  MA
  • For the head and jaw:  YA  YOU   YAI
  • For the stomach:  HUH  HUH  HUH

Vowels are to be sounded with the full energy of a deep breath.  For example, when using I (pronounced ah-eee), inhale first, and then without exhaling, sound a strong and piercing EEEEE, parting your mouth as in a smile.  Keep at the same pitch. Keep sounding as you exhale but do not use up all your air. Rest and repeat the exercise 3 to 4 times. Soon you will notice a definite vibrating effect in your head which is pleasant.  This activity helps to clear the brain, eyes, nose, and ears.  This is a good morning exercise!!

Richard is a voice, guitar and piano instructor in Berkeley, CA.

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