1. Stay on the mat.
Every time I am on the yoga mat, the temptation to think about my other problems, life issues, and concerns can completely take over. It is at that point that my mind and body are completely disconnected, and I am no longer ‘on the mat’. Additionally, if I am comparing myself to others in the yoga room with more flexibility, more strength, and more skill, it can be easy for me to denigrate myself and feel bad about where I am in my progress. These comparisons are another way of moving ‘off the mat’ and not being with myself, and my body and breath in THIS moment.
In a voice lesson or a practice session, if I am projecting out of the room into other problems, or comparing myself to other singers in their journeys, then I am no longer with myself, and able to focus on what the needs of my voice are in the moment.
2. Some days need more child’s pose than others.
There are days in the practice of yoga when the body just doesn’t want to do a certain pose. It’s the same thing in singing: an exercise that I did one day may not work another day.
Having vocal exercises similar to ‘child’s pose’ are a helpful way of continuing your vocal practice on days that the voice just can’t or won’t do a certain extensive exercise. There is NO SHAME in going into child’s pose. In yoga classrooms, participants do it all the time, and the teacher doesn’t walk around SHAMING students in child’s pose. Voice teachers should take a page from that book and find ‘child’s pose’ exercises for those occasional ‘off’ vocal days.
3. Singing should be a spiritual practice
At the beginning of every yoga session, participants ‘consecrate’ the practice they are about to embark upon. They take that moment to get into the present, and set an intention for the next hour. Have you ever taken a moment before practicing or performing to get present, get grateful, and set an intention for your session or performance?
Phrases like “I honor the music within myself” or “I release any attachment to an end result, and invite myself to become open-hearted and creative” or “I am giving myself permission to fail beautifully” can set a gentle purpose for EVERY vocal session.
4. Some days just need to be easy
As I mentioned earlier, some days require lots of child’s pose. This is never seen as a bad thing in yoga. The purpose in yoga practice is to be present, and listen to the body. A vocal practice session is the same thing: LISTEN to what your voice is telling you. If the voice is tight, tired, cracky, or dull, take some time to do some gentle stretches. Maybe the ENTIRE session will just be gentle stretches, lip trills, and easy slides. Let child’s pose ALWAYS remain an option. Yoga practitioners don’t FORCE the body to do something that it isn’t ready to do.
5. Only the present moment matters
What has come before doesn’t matter. If I had a fabulous lesson or performance, it doesn’t mean that I am guaranteed the same thing next time. Staying in the present moment allows me to accept what is here in this moment NOW, even if I don’t like what the present moment has to offer.
6. Being unattached to a result frees you to go deeper into your practice/singing
If I am not attached to the end result of my sound, but focused on the practice and this exercise, then feelings of inadequacy or anger or disappointment don’t crowd into the sacred space of my singing. Perhaps I’ll discover something new and wonderful, in the same way that a yoga pose might suddenly ‘work’ in a yoga session. If I am trying SO hard to get to a result that I WANT, I miss out on the other possibilities of my voice in that moment.
7. Every session is (or should be) a learning session
Every time I am on the mat or in the studio is a different session. I can always learn more about my singing, music, and my vocal abilities. Stay open to learning something new EVERY TIME you sing.
8. Trust that the asanas/vocal exercises will allow (over time) the flexibility and strength the voice needs
There are a LOT of vocal poses and yoga poses (asanas). You’ll find, however, that certain poses/exercises are the mainstays of the repertoire. By committing to a family of exercises over time, you allow the voice to find patterns of habit and behavior. This is useful because it will give your voice a ‘home base’ of function and understanding when you try more advanced exercises and vocal ‘poses’.
9. Pride has to go up on the shelf every time
If I am trying to compete with others in yoga, I will HURT MYSELF. If my body can’t do the poses that you can do, then if I try too hard to meet YOUR skill level, then I am only asking for trouble. Muscles will sprain and HURT. This isn’t the purpose of yoga OR singing. Be where you are and don’t compare someone else’s ability with your own.
10. Self-acceptance leads to greater growth.
Take today, take this moment. Be okay with where you are now in your singing. Make the time to consecrate your practice. Don’t compare yourself to others and put yourself down on where you are right now. Jesus said to “consider the lilies”. Lilies don’t compare themselves to each other, or fret about their growth or development. You are in Nature. Blossom and grow in YOUR TIME. Be gentle with yourself, and open your heart to this wonderful path of music and singing.
2 thoughts on “10 Things Yoga Taught Me About Singing”
Same applies for most spiritual or creative tasks – but this is an excellent summary of how to stay in focus. Thanks.
Very cool post, Justin. I especially love numbers 3 and 8!!