Voice Skills

by Judy Apps

Relaxation

To use your voice well, you need to know how to relax, particularly around the area of shoulders, neck and jaw.

Some tension is the temporary effect of a stressful day, or too much time spent sitting hunched up before a computer screen. Some tension, however, feels quite habitual to us, as we have held ourselves in a particular way for years, often from childhood. This often shows up in the voice – as an angry-sounding tension, for example, or a blocked inhibition in the voice.

Spend some minutes imitating someone who seems relaxed to you. (Ask a friend, or copy someone on the television). Copy the way they stand and their movements and gestures; hold your head and shoulders as they do; balance your body in the same way, and breathe like them. You may find it is very different from your habitual stance and it makes you feel different, and of course speak differently. There are many ways of being in this world!

Posture

How you hold yourself can help good breathing and reduce tension, as well as communicating confidence and authority.

Exercise 1

Stand tall and admire the view

Stand upright and balance evenly on your two feet. Feel the contact of your feet with the soles of your shoes, and through them to the floor.

Stand tall, with your head level and your shoulders down. Keeping your head in this position, release the rest of your body and let it hang so that every vertebra of your spine is hanging down from the one above. Remember to release your knees as well. Feel the relaxation spread right through you.

Within that relaxation, feel alive in every cell. Breathe in and feel yourself fill the space in the room.

You might get a similar feeling when you climb to the top of the hill and, coming over the summit, open your chest to breathe in the fresh air as you see the distant view.

Exercise 2

The two-minute computer break

Look up from your screen; take a good breath in, and blow it all out with a ‘phew’ sound.

Drop your head down towards your chest and gently backwards.

Turn your head to the right and to the left a few times. If it is quiet, you may hear the creaking sound in your neck as you do this.

While facing forward, move your right ear towards the right shoulder and then your left ear towards your left shoulder.

Circle your shoulders, forwards both together, backwards both together, and then individually backwards and forwards.

Release your jaw, and your whole face. Move your jaw up and down and gently from side to side. Put your fingers behind and below your ears and gently massage the jaw.

Finally, be aware that every cell in your body is alive, and feel energy in every part of your body. Breathe in and feel the air cold in your nasal passages. Release the air again.

You can change your whole way of feeling in just two minutes!