Articles

The Tweed Valley Weekly 'Zest Magazine'
July 2014
Voice Therapy – Tuning Up the Voice

 

 

Wellbeing magazine
“Using Yoga to achieve a clearer voice”
Reprinted
December 16th 2009

 


Vision Magazine USA
Inner Healing
“Intimacy Through Sound”
February 2010

 

 

....................................................................................................................................

The Tweed Valley Weekly 'Zest Magazine'
July 2014

Voice Therapy – Tuning Up the Voice

 

‘If the eyes are the window to the soul, then the voice is the soul being heard.’

The voice is an amazing instrument that we generally take for granted.
Most of us are unaware of how simple it can be to improve our voices.
Whether you want to sound better, be more effective communicating, are having specific vocal difficulties, or just want to feel more confident speaking to people, Voice Therapy offers practical effective tools to improve your voice.

Speech Pathologists and vocal coaches can assist you in empowering, strengthening, remediating or beautifying your voice. 
Even a single session learning how to warm up and care for your voice can give you the tools you need to keep your voice working optimally (prevent vocal fatigue and deterioration in tone) during a day of high voice use..

Vocal projection techniques can make a huge difference to vocal performance and confidence, especially if you have to project your voice in noisy situations.
Many professional voice users, e.g. teachers, singers and presenters rely on these techniques, with vocal warm ups and cool downs.
 
Hoarseness, vocal fatigue, reduced pitch or volume range are all signs that help is needed with the voice, generally by a Speech Pathologist with an evaluation by a voice specialist ENT.

Working with the voice can also have a profound impact on our general state of wellbeing.  When learning to identify tension in the throat and release it, with techniques such as finding the feeling at the start of a yawn, or smiling in the throat, people are often amazed at the sense of spaciousness, how stress seems to melt away and the voice resonates.

Consciously working with the voice is a powerful doorway through which we can express our authentic selves, and become aware of habits that disconnect us from our innate sense of happiness and peace.

Written by Carmelle Moore (Speech Pathologist) B.App.Sc.Sp.Path, C.P.S.P., MSPA

 

 

....................................................................................................................................

 

 

WELLBEING ARTICLE

Issue 104, JUNE 2006

Reprinted in DECEMBER 2009

In GOOD VOICE

 

Have you ever choked on your words? Felt them shrivel into a pile of nothingness and get stuck in your throat? Then chances are you need to get your voice moving - literally. The quality of your voice, the way you speak, affects how you’re heard, how well others listen to you. Someone who speaks freely and confidently with a clear tone of voice, is much easier to listen to than a person who’s voice grates with stress or shakes with nerves.

 

There’re many different causes of voice problems. Some are physical, with damaged or injured vocal cords causing inflammation and swelling. Others are mental and emotional with tightness of the throat bought on by anxiety or stress. If the muscles of the throat, jaw, tongue and floor of the mouth are tight quality of the voice is affected

 

This problem is common and can be improved with relaxation, breathing, yoga postures and sounding.

 

Yoga practice, its physical postures, breathing and relaxation techniques, relax the nervous system and assist with correcting respiration problems. With practice muscle tension, alignment, respiration, relaxation, presence, centred-ness, focus and energy are all improved affecting vocal impact and performance anxiety. By feeling more relaxed and connected with yourself many problems of confidence and expression will dissolve and the sound of the voice will generally improve. There are many different yoga postures designed to stretch the muscles in the neck, throat and upper chest, particularly the backward bending postures.

 

Certain practices such as meditation, chakra awareness and nada yoga (sound yoga) can also help to access more of the voice. When we apply ourselves to sounding our words fully, opening our throat and using the muscles for voice production efficiently, we experience clarity of speech and acquire a voice that is much more pleasant to listen to. When voice moves through a body that has been opened and relaxed with yoga postures, the sound naturally carries more freely and fully.

 

 

Carmelle Moore, yoga teacher and a speech pathologist for over 20 years, who runs workshops throughout Australia (www.carmellemoore.com)  has integrated yoga practices and voice since she discovered the affect it had on her own voice. “The use of postures to alter the breath is one of the more obvious ways yoga can impact on the voice” she says “Simply by paying attention to the breath, which is integral to yoga, our breath generally deepens. As well most postures release tension enhancing freedom of breath.”

 

 “People who have previously been suffering stress can achieve a voice that makes them feel more empowered, that can completely alter the way others receive them. There are a variety of reasons why people want to work on their voice. Some people have real problems with their voice, others just want to sound differently, they feel their voice doesn’t reflect who they really are. They want more resonance, flexibility, power or range. Many times people simply need to re-posture their vocal tract so they can resonate their own true voice rather than using the patterns that they have learnt from their vocal role models and perhaps outgrown. Other people find their voice responds automatically as they develop emotionally, spiritually, psychologically.”

 

Carmelle explains that the cells and fluid in our body are highly susceptible to sound vibration. “Our voice is potentially a powerful healing mechanism for the whole body. Sound and voice can be used to access deeper states of awareness, for self healing and to balance our lives. Yoga can help someone move from upper chest breathing patterns, which leads to tension in the upper chest, neck and throat, causing sound to be restrained, to deep full breathing which allows more freedom for the vocal apparatus to function well, improving vocal freedom.”

 

Voice warm ups are regularly used by speech pathologists, actors and singers and one of the aims is to achieve what is known as “forward tone placement”. Carmelle explains how we can achieve this through humming. “Explore what happens when you relax your jaw, lips and tongue and maintain the humming sound in the front of your face, as if the voice is from the face, not the throat. All nasal sounds such as ‘m’, ‘n’ and ‘ng’ as in at the end of the word ‘sing’, are great to play with. After a while add vowels and keep the sound coming forward. Focusing on maximum vibration will produce the most efficient, rich, warm and easily projected voice.”

 

“Chanting, and in particular yogic Sanskrit chants, which are full of the nasal sounds and long vowels, help to access our most resonant voice with the repetition helping to still and relax the mind. The subtle vibrations can also be very healing. According to nada yoga theory, when the chant seems to sing itself within you, then is it working on the deepest level of your being and can effect deep shifts in your psyche.”

 

Carmelle also says there are different ways we use our voice, in different situations, which can be harmful. “Children’s screaming, teachers yelling and some types of singing can all damage the voice. In these cases voice training, learning how to use the voice safely and knowing when to rest it, can be highly beneficial to both adults and children, lessening the risk of vocal problems.”

 

“Anyone who experiences persistent huskiness or a sense of strain or soreness should consult a Speech Pathologist.” Carmelle says “Unfortunately people often like their husky voice because it sounds sexy and don’t realise that permanent damage may occur. These people may be forcing sound from their throat rather than using the whole vocal resonating system to allow efficient and easy voice production. Yoga prepares the bodymind and nervous system to optimally take on new voicing patterns. Yoga postures practiced prior to the vocal exercises can assist in altering these patterns. Following certain yoga practices a person is more relaxed and “open” allowing the voice to sound more easily.”

 

If you know your voice is not operating at it’s best - you want to sound better, more clear, more alive - try some yoga postures that release the spine, open the chest and stretch the throat. Practice regular deep full breathing and the Humming breath. If needed treat yourself to a session with a speech pathologist who can help you rectify any limiting patters. Below are a few examples of postures affective for softening tension in the muscles involved with speech and freeing up the voice.

 

Simhasana or the Lions Roar (file name: <lions_roar.tiff>)

This is a specific yoga practice with sound to clear the throat create better voice tone. 

 

To Position: Be kneeling with the knees wide, buttocks to the heels. Place the hands between the knees on the ground, fingers facing towards the body, palms down.

 

Breathing: Inhale fully. As you exhale lean forward into your wrists, drop your head back, open your mouth wide and poke your tongue sounding the ‘ah’ sound. Feel this ‘ah-ing’ roar from the throat out through your mouth. Extend the tongue down to the chin tip and gaze up to your third eye centre. When the exhalation is complete, and the sound ends, sit the buttocks back to the heels and inhale again and then exhale go forward again with the ‘ah’.

 

Practice: at least three times once a day to clear the throat.  Morning is a good time or before your about to make a speech.

 

Benefits: Through the roaring ‘ahs’ the sweetness of the voice is uncovered. Clears and cleanses the throat and passages of the ears, nose and mouth; promotes a clear voice, develops good speech and confidence.

 

Marjariasana or Cat Stretch (file names: 1. <cat_curl_inhale.tiff> and 2. <cat_curl_exhale.tiff>)

 

Use this practice to loosen up the chest, neck, shoulders and throat.

 

To Position: come to kneeling on all fours, hands shoulder width apart, knees hip-width apart.

 

Breathing: Inhale to lift your tailbone, lift your chest and look up, arching the back. Feel the throat stretching here. Gaze to your third eye centre. Exhale to tuck the tailbone under, tuck the chin in and gaze toward your navel, rounding the spine, stretching deeply across the upper back.


Practice: continue moving like this with the in and out breath. You can also hold the inhalation position and breathe in and out through the stretched throat.


Benefits: frees up the spine, opens the chest and shoulders, stretches and opens the throat.

 

Ustrasana or Camel Pose (file name: <ustrasana.tiff>)
Softness, mobility and lightness are created within this pose.

 

To Position: Be kneeling on the floor, knees hip width, hands on your hips, toes either tucking under (easier variation) or tops of the feet down.


Breathing: As you inhale roll the shoulders back and open the chest. Check the hips stay aligned above the knees. Exhale reach back with one arm to grasp the ankle and extend the other arm up. Tilt the head back a little and stay here with your breath. Inhaling fully and exhale out through the throat centre. Deep full breathing through the nose. Inhale to release and change sides.

 

Benefits: creates a supple spine, opens the chest and shoulders helping to correct bad postures, stretches and opens the throat muscles.


Contraindications: avoid if there is any lower back strain


Jessie Chapman is a yoga teacher who runs Radiance Yoga Wellness Retreats (www.radianceretreats.com) in Byron Bay and Bali which include chakra awareness and voice with Carmelle Moore.

 

^ Back to top

 

Vision Magazine USA
February 2010
Inner Healing
Intimacy Through Sound

by Joule L’adara, Carmelle Moore, Elvina Munir and Kieran Riordan

Satisfying intimacy is what we all long for. It is nourishing, affirming, healing and peace-giving. There is such potential for delight in the dance of intimate interaction, and such potential for disappointment due to differing masculine and feminine preferences in giving and receiving.

The essence of tantra goes beyond the common misunderstanding of spiritual sexual athleticism. Tantric wisdom invites us to use any of our sensory faculties to be de-lighted, to feel so good that we easily align with the blissful source of who we are. Exquisite sound, like sensitive touch, is a natural sensory pathway to melt defenses and be opened to your ecstatic fullness. Sharing such vibratory shifts with a partner allows a more fulfilling experience of intimacy.

 

We would like to offer two introductory exercises exploring intimacy through sound. We believe that these partner play activities honor both masculine and feminine essences and will therefore joyfully deepen your intimate play.

 

Intimacy through Sound Exercises
Preparation: Intention Setting
Start by sitting down and facing each other. Set your intentions by creating a “sacred space” and asking out loud for this work to be guided by the Light to bring about the highest good for all beings. Ask all other negative energies to kindly leave. Also ask that this space be safe and protected. Put this in your own words and have fun with it. Then sit for a time silently looking into each other’s eyes.

 

Partner Sounding with Voice
Still facing one another, close your eyes. Start to entrain your breath—this means inhaling and exhaling in sync, slowly expanding, lengthening, elongating and deepening your breath together. Allow this breath work to go on for some time.

 

Next begin a gentle hum together. Start out in unison by matching one another’s pitch. Make sure it is a comfortable note for both of you within your vocal range—if one of you is straining, you can change to another note and your partner should follow. Relax your neck and throat. Try experimenting by moving your lips and tongue around while producing this hum to change the resonance within your mouth. Listen to the subtle changes coming from your partner and respond in playfulness.

 

Now starting with the hum, slowly open your mouth to an open “ah” sound and then allow the mouth to slowly close back into a hum again. Play around with high and low tones, as well as with going back and forth between hum and ah, weaving in and out of your partner’s hum and ah. Remember that there is no right and wrong here, but there are different levels of listening and reacting to one another.

 

Next experiment with various vowel sounds: ah, ei, ee, oh, uu. Pay attention to how the creation of these different vowels makes you feel. What emotional qualities do you sense coming from your partner when listening to his/her sounds? Stripped of the meaning that consonants create forming words, what does your partner sound like when you are hearing pure sound communication? Listen with your full body—see how open and vulnerable you can allow yourself to be and how much of this person you can take in.

 

Lastly, slowly reverse the process, going from the open vowels, to just hum and ah, then just hum, and finally, allowing the hum to slowly diminish to pure breath, inhaling and exhaling together in synchronization.

 

Partner Sounding with Instruments
Preparation: Gather several sound and sensory devices and have them close at hand. This may include Tibetan bowls, chimes, bells, drums, and rattles, as well as musical instruments. If you don’t have many formal instruments, you can also use glasses and bowls (with and without water), mugs, pots, or wooden spoons. Be creative, selecting objects based on the pleasing tones they produce whether played, struck or rubbed. Also it is great to have a selection of other sensory objects, like feathers, soft fabrics, aromatic flowers, and essential oils. Before beginning, be sure to set your intentions together using the guidelines above.

 

Start with one partner lying down with a cloth or eye cushion placed over his/her eyes. If at any time, the listener is uncomfortable, he/she should feel free to say so out loud so that the partner can make adjustments.

 

Begin to create sounds around your partner, not too loud or too close to the ears. With chimes and small to medium Tibetan bowls, you can even place them on the body. Continue to synchronize your breath with your partner while still playing sounds. Allow your mind to relax and intuitively play the sounds in the order and variety that will best serve your partner in this moment. Keep sounds gentle and soft, allowing enough space in between for them to ring out and resonate with one another, but avoid periods of silence here, as this can create anticipation or tension in the listener. It is ideal to create a steady, slow and almost rhythmical pattern to create maximum sonic support for your partner.

 

Once the sound play has finished, use a large feather to stroke or brush the auric field of your partner from head to toe without touching the body. While doing this, visualize that you are clearing away any energetic debris that may have come to the surface during the sound massage.

 

Next take a drop or two of your favorite essence or essential oil and rub between your hands. Quietly ask your partner to take a deep breath as you circle your palms about four inches above his/her face, over the body, and down to the feet. Visualize that you are sealing the auric field with this beautiful fragrance.

 

To complete the session, gently touch your partner’s shoulder and ask him/her to move the fingers and toes. When ready, your partner can remove the eye cushion.
After sound work with either voice or instruments, it is very important to allow space for the blessing of silence at the end of these exercises. It is in the silence after the sounds have ended where some of the most profound healing and connection can occur. Resisting the urge to immediately fall back into idle conversation, have the courage to hold the silence together for awhile, or possibly an entire evening. You may be surprised to discover a deeper level of intimacy together that words cannot begin to express.

 

Joule L’adara is the founder of Sounding Circles in Hawaii. Carmelle Moore is the creator of VoiceMoves Yoga and facilitates InterPlay throughout Australia. Elvina Munir is the founder of Harmonic Healing and manufactures beautiful sound healing instruments. Kieran Riordan is a Transpersonal Psychologist with a practice in Byron Bay. Joule, Carmelle, Elvina and Kieran will be co-facilitating the Sounding Circles Retreat in May 2010 at Kalani on the Big Island, Hawaii: soundingcircles.com

 

^ Back to top