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Singing almost always make me yawn. I've heard this is due to not breathing correctly, but I'm not sure what that means. What's the correct way to breathe while singing so I don't yawn?

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Wow.. when that happens to me I thought I was tired or just plain crazy -- had no idea it had something to do with breathing technique (even remotely). Thanks for asking this very particular question!!! –  BeemerGuy May 10 '11 at 23:25
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5 Answers

I experienced the same thing when I was first learning to sing. I think that yawning is your body's natural reflex to open up wide, flex and then relax all the muscles in your larynx, throat and mouth (all of which you need to remain flexible and in control to sing properly). Yawning is good for warming up before singing, but not good if it interrupts your singing. Back then I found that I would yawn a bit at the beginning of rehearsal, but I never yawned during performance because I focused mentally on giving the best performance that I could, and got so busy focusing on forming each note that yawning was no longer a possibility.

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More generally about breathing properly while singing:

  • Stand up straight.
  • Don't raise your chest when breathing.
  • Instead, breathe down into your stomach. Your lungs will expand downwards and you'll have more control over the release of air as you sing.

If you put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach, the chest hand should remain still and the stomach hand should move out when you breathe in and in when you breathe out. This should allow you to get more oxygen out of your breaths, regardless of how many you take.

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You could also have an iron deficiency, which affects the amount of oxygen your system can use. I'd say go and talk to a GP and see if it's possibly medically related as well as a technique thing.

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I tried to play flute in middle school, but I had to quit due to my iron deficiency at the time (as well as the fact that every other flautist in the band was a girl, which at that age isn't necessarily a good thing). –  Rei Miyasaka May 10 '11 at 1:48
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One of the first thing you could do is to train yourself to yawn : yawn and alternatively inhale and intonate at a standard voice level at the same time, opening the mouth as wide as possible.

Do that slowly, several times before starting to sing.

It will flex your face muscles in a good way and place your lower jaw. A little side benefit is that you will be less likely to yawn after this exercice. Our singing teacher used to make us do this and a little series of other warmups before every session.

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One cause of yawning can certainly be that your body needs more oxygen, so key to solving the problem is getting enough breaths in. Some scores have breaths marked, but for others you'll need to work out for yourself where you can fit your breaths in.

You can train for bigger breaths but some people find it difficult to breathe properly. I know a couple of people who were asthmatic and had this problem, and they found swimming helped them learn to breathe more deeply and take deeper, more controlled breaths.

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Yawning is a natural reflex that triggers to force you to take a deep breath. The mechanism is somewhat perfected, so in order to learn how to breathe correctly, you should notice what happens in your body when you yawn, and learn from it (all the aspects except from the visual gaping of the mouth..). –  awe Oct 20 '11 at 7:58
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