Voice & Yoga: a common ground.
There are many different reasons one may want a better quality of voice. Several professions (singers, lawyers, doctors, priests, teachers or salespeople) may rely on voice as a work tool. Others may simply find it hard to generally communicate because they are too softly spoken, mumble, monotone, loud, nasal or sound young when they speak. And then there are those who simply have an issue with expressing their “inner voice” and needs. And those who dare singing only under the shower….
Many Asanas may be used as a medicine for throat problems and may improve voice quality. They do so by strengthening the muscle of the throat and by soothing the vocal chords. Popular Asanas for voice improvement include for example Sarvangasa, shoulder stand. Sarvangasa benefits both throat muscles and vocal chords by exerting pressure against the throat. It clears throat congestion, alleviates symptoms of thyroid disorders and improves blood circulation.
Chanting also has positive effects on voice and throat. Through the vibration of sound, it provokes feelings of peace and well-being. Physically speaking, science has demonstrated that chanting can benefit the metabolism, boost endorphin levels, lower blood pressure and improve voice quality. My breathing and my voice have surely become much longer and steadier since I started to practice chanting and pranayamas; pharynx (vocal box) and vocal chords are cleansed and stronger.
But, what is “voice”?
For me voice is the expression of your truest and deepest self.
Not only the voice, as sound, comes from the very deep inside of your physical body, it is literally ‘produced’ by your body. By singing all your body is involved: you use your respiratory system and your nervous system and this has clear effects on your endocrine system.
Voice is a very sensitive tool of expressing your feelings, your emotions and to a certain extent your thoughts. Just think about how your voice pitch and ton change depending on whether you are angry, sad or happy….
I am a professional classical singer. I have always been aware of the very positive sensations which we feel whenever our body resonates and vibrates with sound. I have often asked myself why do I go through the stress of a concert preparation, the anxiety of facing an audience. And I have simply replied to myself that the instant when you are on stage and your voice resounds and expands and touches other persons, that instant is magic. You are not you anymore, a soprano singing a certain song in front of a listening audience; you are THAT sound.
When I started practice pranayama I realized that the sensation is exactly the same: the vibration of the sound in my rib cage, throat and skull have a calming and lulling effect, my heart rate becomes slow and regular, my body fills in with oxygen and energy. I feel calm and serene. In touch with myself.
This is, for me, what voice is about: the connection with yourself.