Your Teaching Voice – Why You Need to Find & Develop It
Do You Know How To Use Your Teaching Voice?
As a yoga teacher, your voice is just as unique as the way you flow and the style of your sequence. How your voice sounds impacts how your students feel during their time with you and how they receive your instructions. But despite the critical importance of the voice in teaching yoga, few teachers are taught about it during their training.
Inadequate Voice Training in Yoga Teacher Training Programs
From the hundreds of yoga teacher training programs I’ve researched across Europe, Australia and North-America, less than around 5% taught voice technique within their yoga teacher training program. Of those, few really taught yoga teacher trainers correct voice technique or how to find your teaching voice.
As a singer, voice coach and yoga teacher myself this actually makes me angry! How can we know to use our voice correctly if we’re not shown how? And how can we find our teaching voice if we’re not given the tools to will help us? This is why I created my online voice courses for yoga teachers – to teach yoga teachers what the voice is and how to correctly use it.
”Your teaching voice is your vehicle for transmitting knowledge & passion to your students.Susan DugdaleSpeech Trainer, USA
As yoga teachers we want to make an impact and help others. Be it helping others to heal trauma through physically releasing this in the body, to creating an oasis where students can relax and let go. Yoga teachers exist to serve. But when we don’t know how to use our teaching voice, how can we be of service? How can we truly share what we wish to and have the impact we’d like when we haven’t yet found our teaching voice?
What is Your Teaching Voice?
Your voice is as unique as your fingerprint. But unlike your fingerprint it can be modified, controlled and adjusted. I like to think of it in this way – to find your teaching voice you need to be able to do two main things:
- Understand what your voice is and how to correctly use it for health & impact whilst teaching
- Understand how to modify your voice based on the class you wish to give in a way that is in alignment with who you are
Not having a clear foundation with your voice before attempting to modify it for teaching is like trying Bakasana (Crow Pose) before learning Phalakasana (Plank Pose). You need to understand and experience the basics first before you can fly 😉 Once you’ve learned what your voice is and how to use it for speaking, you can then get creative and explore your teaching voice!
How to Find Your Teaching Voice?
In order to find your teaching voice you need to experiment with the different qualities involved in speaking that influence how your voice sounds to your listener. They are:
- Number of pauses
- Intonation or vocal melody
Two of the main elements that impact the message we share are the tone of our voice and the rhythm of the words we use. With this in mind we can practice adjusting these elements to find a rhythm and melody that feels good for us, and for how we wish to share ourselves in different teaching situations.
Tips to Find Your Teaching Voice
- Change up your rhythm. Think about what you want to express and how you want to express it. Is it something mindful that would best be delivered in a slow way? Is it something that needs energy, and should be spoken with more speed and intensity?
- Pause for impact. Think about what you wish to say in advance and then pause before important moments to give more impact to your message.
- Explore changing up your pitch. What happens we you speak certain words in a lower tone and others in a higher tone? How does the overall delivery feel? Record yourself doing this and see how the effect is.
- Experiment with changes in volume. Volume is a form of expression and it’s a way you can add more dynamic and colour into what you are saying. Play with this tool when you speak to others.
- Check your intonation. Make sure that you take your pitch up during a sentence, or before a comma, and down at the end of a sentence. This makes what you have to say easier for others to follow.
Get Creative With Your Teaching Voice
One of my favourite ways to help people find their teaching voice for different situations is to experiment with role play.
Taking on roles allows us to change the colour and cadence of our voice without effort. It can actually be a lot of fun! By having a hand full of “roles” up our sleeves, we can manipulate our voice as we would like it to sound in certain situations. It’s an easy, fun method that puts us in control of our sound in the different situations we find ourselves in!
Role Play Exercise
- Role 1: Imagine you are an excited yoga teacher. Walk around like her. Move like her. Speak like her. Say, “I can’t wait for it to start!” Feel how it feels to be her.
- Role 2: Imagine you are a blissed out Yogi in Savasana. Walk around like her. Move like her. Speak like her. Say, “I let it all go now.” Feel how it feels to be her.
In each role observe how your voice sounds. What effect does the role have on your articulation, projection, speed, number of pauses and your intonation? How does the role feel for you? And how could you imagine using your voice as this role when you teach your next yoga class?
I recommend taking time to play and curiously explore this exercise in a quiet, safe space. Allow yourself to let go and discover new ways of expressing your teaching voice in it. If you need support in this, I’m happy to help you. And, for a short voice warm-up routine before starting your next teaching class, take a look at the blog post I wrote Voice Exercises For Yoga Teachers.
Do You Have Questions? Then Get In Touch
If you’re curious about finding your teaching voice and have questions, then I’d love to hear from you. With over 15 years of experience in yoga, voice training and meditation, I’ll help you by starting where you’re at on your teaching journey and be as a bridge to help you develop and strengthen your voice for maximal impact when you teach!