What "Embodied Voice" Means and How It Can Transform Your Life
When I tell people I am a certified embodied voice trainer and yoga teacher, I am often asked: “What is embodied voice?” I used to say it is a way of developing and training voice and speech by connecting with sensation (of breath, voice, and movement) and using that sensation to discover healthy actions that will enhance the health, power, and clarity of your voice and speech.
But what does that mean?
Put simply: “Embodied voice” is a yoga discipline for the voice.
The word “yoga” in Sanskrit means to “yoke” or “unite” body, mind, and spirit such that the fluttering of the mind comes to stillness; i.e. you are present. In Hatha Yoga, we come to this through a series of breathing practices, standing and seated poses in which we move the spine is six different directions, feel the breath through these movements, and focus on how the breath and body are connected. This single point of awareness ceases the fluttering of the mind; thus, we come into a state of yoga. We complete the practice with either lying on the back in savasana or sitting up in meditation—sometimes we do both to further connect with our Spirit within.
At the heart of Hatha Yoga is connecting with sensation and being one with it.
Similarly, we do this in embodied voice, except instead of moving our arms and legs and putting ourselves in different shapes to move the spine, we feel the subtleties of the voice.
In a typical voice class either geared towards singing or articulation, you may have worked to refine your outer ear (hearing ability), hear what your teacher said and how she/he said it, and copy it until you were able to make that pitch/articulation your own. That is not what we do in embodied voice.
Instead, we work on developing your voice and speech; not copying mine. Like Hatha Yoga, it all starts with sensation. Feel your breath easily. Sigh it out. Notice what moves in the body. Notice the quality of the mind. Notice how intricately connected the body and mind are. In fact, it’s really the bodymind, a complex that includes your physical body, your feeling body that takes in stimuli, your feeling body that feels balance and rhythm from within, your intelligence, your memories, your thoughts, your intelligence, your emotions, your breath, your Spirit—YOU. It’s all you.
When you begin to quiet your thoughts and find a single-pointed focus on your voice as you hum, you are connecting to a pure form of you. It’s beautiful. You begin to take pleasure in how you hum, the feeling of vibration as you hum, how your bodymind becomes the background of your attention as you feel the hum and how your bodymind becomes involved in some way in the humming (feeling light, feeling grounded, feeling effervescent). You are free from tension. You feel embodied—there is no disconnect in body, mind, breath, or Spirit. You are in a state of yoga through how you feel the voice. This is embodied voice. (You can dive deeply into the topic with my book.)
Embodied voice practices include:
Developing consonants for intelligible speech and clarity (no more speaking more quickly than you can get the words out) and enjoying the musical nature of your speech. It’s there waiting for you to discover.
You develop vocal power in subtle and extravagant ways, but there is never any force, pushing, or shouting. Instead, you create vocal power by getting real with a pinpoint focus of the voice on a particular part of the roof of the mouth and expand your vocal range from there. It is empowering to feel strong without having to do so much to get there.
You yield to the flexibility of your mouth and jaw spaces by finding freedom in how you feel your vowels. You release tension from the jaw and tongue and soften your heart along the way.
You bring all of this awareness of voice and speech through the bodymind complex into texts provided by amazing poets and writers. You feel a deeper connection to the written word becoming the spoken word in ways that convince you magic is a real force in the world.
You carry this over to how you speak in everyday life. The magic remains and you are fully grounded, confident, vulnerable, committed, and present in daily life. You are in a state of divine union with yourself, your surroundings, and your Spirit within and around.
Lucky for those of you who make embodied voice a lifelong practice, this union is there for you every single time you breathe and speak so long as you water the garden of sensation awareness within. Your listeners (your family, friends, and communities) benefit as well because they receive a clearer, focused you and respond to your energy accordingly—calmer, receptive, and more connected to what you say.
Just like a traditional Hatha Yoga practice, it takes a commitment to this self-study to create this practice as a way of life. However, I have seen students get a taste of how grounded, clear, and focused they feel after only ten minutes and they haven’t left the “embodied voice train” since—they took to it immediately and it unfolded for them through their dedication to themselves and the practice.
If you are tired of feeling frazzled, fatigued, and unconfident in your life, you may be amazed at what an embodied voice discipline can do. Opt-in for my email list by contacting me to learn how you can become part of a VIP group for my Embodied Voice online courses. You can feel transformation in only 21 days if you stick with me and my process (yes, there is journaling). You will not regret it.