Gabi is a yoga teacher and trained singer and actor. These are her 5 top tips for keeping your voice healthy as a yoga teacher. Most teachers have had a day when they wake up with a sore throat. Try these 5 top tips to keep those tired sore throats at bay.
1. Hydration – it’s very important to keep the vocal folds (in the larynx) well hydrated, they are the first place that will become dry if you are dehydrated. Did you know, biologically they are the least important to keep you alive! Make sure you drink plenty of water, but also limit caffeine and alcohol consumption and avoid smoking. Inhaling steam for extra, topical, hydration can be a real help.
2. Rest – it’s important to get your 8 hours every night (or however much sleep you need as an individual) and also to rest your voice (easier said than done perhaps?!) If you have taught a lot of classes or your voice is feeling tired you should try to have complete vocal rest – that means no talking or making sound at all – for at least part of your day. I like to try to be silent for 1 hour before bed to allow my voice the extra time it needs to rest.
3. Warm-up and cool-down – just like the muscles in the rest of your body, the muscles of the larynx need to be warmed-up before intense use and cooled-down afterwards. You would never ask students in your class to come straight into Hanumanasana without any prep but that is exactly what you are asking of your voice. Your warm-up and cool-down don’t have to be long – a few minutes for each should be enough. You might start by humming up and down your range gently, getting higher and lower each time. After teaching you could use humming again but this time from the middle of your range down to the bottom. This helps to relax your vocal folds after the effort of teaching and return your larynx to a neutral position. Lots more practical warm-up and cool-down tools will be covered in Gabi's ‘Voice and Yoga’ workshop at Yoga Quota, Oxford 26th May and 16th June 2018.
4. No Ujjayi. "But Gabi, Ujjayi pranayama is integral to my Vinyasa practice!" The constriction at the back of the throat that is needed to make the Ujjayi sound half closes the larynx, restricting the movement of the vocal folds. It is totally up to you what you do in your own yoga practice but when you are teaching I would recommend using a silent breath unless you are demonstrating Ujjayi for your students. This allows the vocal folds to move freely and can prevent them from becoming inflamed. Long term inflammation and trauma to the delicate tissues of the vocal folds can lead to the formation of nodules that, at their worst, could need surgery to be removed! If you do choose to use Ujjayi in your own yoga practice I would suggest a bit of laughter afterwards. Laughing is the opposite to Ujjayi and opens the larynx, so a bit of laughter before you start speaking again can help prevent trauma to the vocal folds.
5. Book into Gabi’s workshop ‘Voice and Yoga’ workshop at Yoga Quota, Oxford 26th May and 16th June 2018 where Gabi will cover everything you ever wanted to know about vocal health, how to handle nerves and teaching anxiety, and how to use your voice and your language effectively to enhance the experience of your students.
For more information about Gabi, go to www.gabimarkhamyoga.com