Singing, like dancing or the visual arts, is a natural expression of the human spirit. Unfortunately, our society often tells us we cannot perform these activities unless we are “experts.” As a voice teacher, yoga teacher, and a singer myself, I believe we all have artistic spirits within us. Just as we yoginis tap into the silence of the inner self through our practice, we all have the ability to tap into our inner song and express it outwardly.
Imagine singing with non-judgement and self-acceptance – the same principals we use on our mats! By dropping this judgement and self-criticism, we can learn to make sound and song the same way. Just as we can practice a yoga pose and experience it from the inside-out, we can drop into the feeling of sound from the inside- out, exploring vibrations in the body, sound with movement , and the joy of joining our voice with the voices of others.
Yoga and singing make a beautiful marriage. I have been a singer most of my life. Once I began a serious yoga practice 20 years ago, I became fascinated by the way both singing and asana practice are improved and deepened through an intimate body-mindfulness. The longer I studied yoga, the more singing became an act of love and service rather than one of perfection and ego. I feel strongly committed to helping others find their voice and the inherent joy and expression that comes with it!
Try this: stand in mountain pose and come to quiet. Raise the arms slowly as you take in a full, healing breath. Release the arms and the breath on a sigh. Notice the feeling of allowing the breath to fully let go. Do the same motion again and this time release the sound on an audible "ah." Keep the same feeling of letting go, giving up the controls. Now do that motion as you inhale fully and release the air on a pitched sound - any vowel you want, any kind of sound you want, but keep the sense of letting go, of relaxation, with no judgement. Don't listen to your sound, just pay attention to the inner experience.
Wishing you a harmony of mind, body, and spirit!
There is always a lot of discussion around breath in childbirth education. And for good reason. Our breath can be a good tool in managing the intensity of birth. Frankly, it’s a good tool to use for anything intense or challenging in our lives (yes, mothering is wonderful, but it is also HARD). Our breath never leaves us, so it’s always available. Our breath affects all parts of our bodies, so we can use it to moderate stress. You will also notice that the opposite is also true: our thoughts can impact our breath as well.
For the next few weeks in prenatal yoga, we will be learning and practicing various breathing techniques that will be useful in reducing anxiety, depression, stress and managing pain. Hopefully, you can find one that works for you!
Sometimes, we are caught in the habit of negative thinking. This affects how we see the world and can negatively affect our health. As mothers, we may realize that we need to change negative thinking when we become pregnant, as a means to care for our bodies and babies. Plus, we all know that pregnancy, birth and motherhood can be challenging. Thinking positively can make this process so much easier!
But we can’t make change until we are aware of what needs changing. Once we are aware of negative thinking, we have then can be empowered to make healthier and more positive choices. In prenatal yoga, we learn and use various tools like breath and movement to become more aware of our bodies, thoughts and actions.
This week, we will practice using visualization to help us focus on the positive. Science has proven the mind-body connection, so we know that our body reacts when we just even imagine something. For example, if you visualize yourself sucking on a lemon, your mouth may begin to react and pucker. Your body reacts to your thoughts. You can use imagery to send yourself somewhere relaxing when in a stressful situation (like a beach) or imagine creating space in your body (i.e., inhaling into your lower back, exhaling releasing stress and tension). This type of visualization can be helpful during birth or any challenging mothering situation. Come learn and practice visualization with us this week!