8 reasons why yoga can be good for your voice
Anyone who has lessons with me, attends my choir or simply follows my Facebook page will know that in the past year or so I have been doing yoga and have also integrated it into my daily vocal routine. I will never forget doing yoga for the first time with my teacher Marijana at Aikido House and the effect it had on my voice afterwards. My voice felt “freer”, more loose and it was easier in general to sing. So here are, in my humble opinion, 8 reasons why yoga can be good for your voice and improve your vocal capabilities.
- Yoga aids in breathing through the nose: the Ujjayi breath in yoga is done exclusively through the nose. Ujjayi (translated as “victorious”) breathing. The sound of Ujjayi is created by gently constricting the opening of the throat to create some resistance to the passage of air. Gently pulling the breath in on inhalation and gently pushing the breath out on exhalation against this resistance creates a well-modulated and soothing sound—something like the sound of ocean waves rolling in and out. Of course, when singing, we don’t breath out through the nose. However, in using your nose to breath in you get the benefits of a deeper breath, more air and a warmer breath which is more beneficial to the vocal cords than breathing through your mouth. In addition to this, when breathing in and out through your nose even when not singing or doing yoga, your chances of catching a cold, etc. is minimised as the air is “filtered” through the nose.
- Yoga aids in increasing your breath control: in the yoga method that I do with my teacher (Ashtanga System), with each movement we either breath in or breath out. The more you practice where and when to breath in and out, the more you learn to control your breath when singing and in your everyday life.
- Yoga helps to expand and strengthen your chest and diaphragm: with poses such as the Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Posture), Dhanurasana (bow pose) or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose), we stretch our chest, abdominal and/or oblique muscles which lead to their being stronger, longer and, as a result, being able to have greater breath capacity.
- Yoga helps to relax your neck and shoulders: there is almost nothing that hinders the voice more than tension in the shoulders and neck. With various yoga poses, the tension in your neck and shoulders is alleviated leading to a “freer”, more loose voice.
- Yoga helps to improve your posture: poses such as the Urdhva Hastasana (the “upward salute” in the salutation to the sun), the Tadasana (mountain pose) or Virabhadrasana 1 (or warrior 1 pose) help improve your posture which is essential to good singing and breathing technique.
- Yoga assists in giving you focus: as I mentioned before, in Ashtanga yoga, each movement is done while either breathing in or breathing out. In addition, with each movement you have to focus your gaze (Drishti) on a particular focal point, e.g. your thighs, hands, a point in the room, etc., Focus is essential not just for singing (so as to have enough breath for a particular phrase, sing in tune, give emotion to the piece your singing, etc. etc. etc.), but for any activity, from any given creative process to everyday living and breathing. Without focus and mindfulness, mistakes are made, time is wasted, life passes us by…
- Yoga can help stimulate the throat, heart and other chakras: whether or not you believe in the chakras, you cannot dismiss the energy you feel in various parts of your body or chakras while doing yoga. For example, for almost every asana or pose we do, our teacher always says “open up your heart”. In opening up and stimulating our chakras, we feel balance and inner peace, essential not only for singing but for our everyday lives.
- Yoga can help us to focus on our body as a whole: for anyone who has had lessons with me or read my philosophy on singing on this website, they will know that I believe that our entire body is an instrument, not just the throat – if our toes are not touching the floor or our hands are gripped in a fist or we are balancing on one foot, we won’t sing the same if these were not the case. Yoga helps us to focus on all parts of the body – from the top of our head to the tips of our toes – and can assist us in using this focus in our singing as well.
So what are you waiting for? Find your nearest yoga studio, enroll in a class and find out all the benefits of doing yoga yourself. Namaste