All the way to the pelvic floor. I’m not kidding. You have to allow the pelvis to open up all the way “down there” to let the diaphragm above do its magic and give you a good breath.
This can be tricky in the voice studio, as teachers try to deal with this issue as delicately as possible…or not! In the more unsavory areas of the voice community, there may still be teachers openly talking about genitals with regard to vocal technique. Some may say you have to feel like you’re peeing. At least one has been known to say, “take a vagina breath.” Now, imagine yourself as an 18-year-old girl in the voice studio of Dr. Sleazypants and hearing that advice! I’d run out crying.
But there is something very specific going on down there that has to be addressed when you allow the breath to drop in low enough:
The pubic bone separates from the tailbone.
Release all the abdominal muscles and just let the breath drop in all the way down. When you’re singing or doing vocal exercises, you can do a little balletic plié when breathing or phonating so that everything above and below the diaphragm will just release, and your larynx can rely only on the breath coming from below to make sound.
Sometimes I will say to imagine you’re a tree sending a root into the earth, or you’re breathing through the first or second chakra. And I remind people not to lock their knees or suck in their tummy; all those subconscious ways we try to “suck in” and look trim and presentable do not do a bit of good if you’re trying to sing.
You really have to let it all hang out and stay loose.
And that’s another part of being comfortable with yourself and making friends with your instrument; if you can’t “be with yourself” and let go of any concern over how you may look in the practice studio, then it will be that much harder to “be with” an audience when you’re on stage.
The breath is one of the most powerful tools a singer has. Allow the in-breath to relax the torso all the way down to the pelvic floor, and with practice you will discover how deep the well of your voice can go.