Why You Need to do This
Voice Exercises Before Teaching Yoga
Teaching a 90-minute yoga class, giving workshops or leading training programs, requires vocal stamina. And just like anything else in the body that requires stamina, we need to prepare ourselves correctly for the experience in advance through voice exercises.
As a yoga teacher doing voice exercises before teaching is essential to help you actively engage your breathing muscles, position your voice correctly, and align with your energetic intention for the class you wish to give. In fact, your voice sets the complete tone for your class and voice exercises are the tools you need to use to activate that tone. So when your tone is relaxed, your students will be relaxed too. And when your tone is upbeat, your students will feel energized. Actually, how your students experience your voice directly affects how much they enjoy their time with you during class. And doing between five and fifteen minutes of voice exercises to warm your teaching voice up before teaching, will make all the difference!
Activate Your Body Before These Voice Exercises
I recommend doing these short alignments and stretches just before doing the voice exercises below, to maximise your receptivity:
Stretch Your Body
I know you may not have a lot of time. That you may have just driven across town after your last class finished and are rushing through your sequence to prep before your next class… The thing is though, time isn’t borrowed, it’s created. So when you can, make a little time before your voice exercises to roll out your mat and do a few slow flows or sun salutations to warm up and activate your body consciousness. I recommend adding in a few side-stretches to engage your intercostal muscles as well as a few heart openers like camel to open up the chest area.
Stretch Your Neck & Shoulders
To prepare for the voice exercises, stretch your neck by rolling your head forward in slow semi-circles from your left ear to your right ear and back again. I go through a much more detailed process on this in my online voice course for yoga teachers.
Correct Your Posture
Finally, before beginning the simple voice exercises below, sit for a moment in meditation position and focus on your alignment. Our voice is within us so correct posture is crucial to be able to use our voices correctly whilst teaching. Check that your spine is straight, your belly is soft, your shoulders are relaxed and gentle roll down your back, your throat is open, your head lifts and both your jaw and tongue are relaxed.
Voice Exercises for Yoga Teachers
This is a 10-minute routine I encourage all the yoga teachers who train their voices with me to do before teaching yoga class:
Align with your Breath
Place one hand on your heart and the other on your belly. Slowly breathe in and out. As you do, lengthen both your inhalation and exhalation. Imagine they are the waves of the ocean gently rising and falling. Feel yourself relax and mindfully connect to your intention for your class. Imagine the sequences you will take your students through, visualize the energy of the room and how they will feel. Visualize how you will use your voice to guide the space and feel how this feels.
Activate your Breath
Sit in a comfortable position for you to do Kapalabhati Pranayama. Do two rounds of Kapalabhati for one minute each with a 30-second pause in between.
Activate your Voice
Warm up your voice using “brr” and “nn” trills. Vocalize each up and down the length of your vocal range. If you haven’t made a “brr” sound before, imagine the sound you make when you’re very cold.
Position your voice
Speaking involves resonance. When we resonate with ease, our speech comes out easily. We have projection power without needing force. One of the best exercises for resonance is to hum. Sound out a “hmm” on a comfortable tone for you within your speaking range. Imagine your vocal energy shines like a halo above and through the top of your head. Imagine it vibrating on your forehead and up through your skull. If you’d like to see me guide you through this and the other exercises I’ve shared here, take a look at my free Webinar where I explain all of this in a lot more detail 🙂
Practice a Tongue-Twister
Try saying Chaturanga Dandasana a number of times over. Focus on how you articulate the phrase and imagine it rolling with ease off of your tongue.
Visualize the Outcome
Whilst reconnecting to your intention for the class and the vision of how you would like to sound and how you would like your students to feel, practice saying some of your teaching instructions.
Have something to drink just before you begin teaching to lubricate your mouth. If your voice feels dry or tired, have some hot water nearby. Inhaling the steam is the most direct way to quickly hydrate your vocal cords.
Be genuinely yourself!
When you understand how to use your voice correctly, take the time to warm up your voice before teaching and align with a clear intention for your class, your voice will flow.
Never be afraid to share your authentic self with your students. That is what makes you unique and what makes your teaching style unique. Nobody wants a robot. Your students come to your class because they want to be taught by you! And when you use your voice correctly in that space you maximize your chance of your students continuing to return to your classes.