Yoga for the Voice
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The Singer in Green, Edgar Degas, 1884, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Breathe In

Yoga for the Voice

Why Singing Is Good for the Mind
Aleksandra Reszelska
Reading
time 10 minutes

The floor of the great auditorium smelled of cleaning paste. The cleaners must have scrubbed them well. The school ceremony was about to begin. Children from all eight grades were seated on small, evenly arranged chairs, the parents crouched here and there on the floor. All of the faculty sat in the front row. A slender twelve-year-old girl stood at the microphone. From all sides of the room, eyes filled with curiosity stared at her.  She opened her mouth. Nothing. In a stage whisper, one of the teachers started to hint the words of the song for the special occasion. But that wasn’t it. It wasn’t about the forgotten lyrics. The girl’s throat ran out of voice, just as when a person runs fast they run out of breath. No sound came out of her wide-open mouth. It lasted just over ten seconds, but to her it felt like she was standing in silence for an eternity.

That girl was me. Almost three decades after this excruciating performance, I signed up for singing lessons. At the very first meeting, Jodie—my Australian teacher—said that the tone of my voice was the result of my state of mind and certain past choices.

“Can you recall, at some point in your childhood, in school, during your first important friendships, whether your voice gave you strength to shine, or to hide?” she asked from over the black and white keys of the piano. “When you speak in your characteristic way, do you feel control over the impression you make on people? If you can answer at least some of these questions for yourself, we can continue working.”

I remembered the stories about the elocution lessons of Margaret Thatcher, who wanted to sound more commanding, as well as critics of Hillary Clinton, arguing that somebody who talks like a nagging wife couldn’t be president. People judge each other by the sounds they make. If we assume the body is an instrument, then the voice—that is, the vocal cords  stimulated by the flow of air—is its most important melody. Thus, speech, shouting, and singing aren’t only physiological acts, even

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Mysteries of the Yogis
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Ginny Rose Stewart / Unsplash
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Mysteries of the Yogis

A Guide to Fifteen Basic Asanas
Mikołaj Kuplowski

Yoga in Sanskrit means ‘what is appropriate’ and ‘what is systematically and constantly applied’. In this case, the point is what is appropriate to human nature. The conviction has become entrenched that everything related to yogis borders on some kind of mysticism. In fact, the yogis’ exercises and their observance of hygiene principles are based on their comprehensive knowledge of the human body, its anatomy, and the principles by which its organs function. For example, yogis flush the nasal cavity with warm, salty water. This prevents colds and certain infectious diseases, treats runny noses and most importantly, helps proper breathing.

The yogis’ physical exercises are an entire science of maintaining health and longevity – a science that was already formed thousands of years ago. The exercises don’t just include your muscles. The basic focus is on ‘training’ the internal organs, mainly the nervous system, on which your general health depends. The brain and spinal cord contain nerve nodes that direct the basic functions of the human body. Over the millennia, a series of classical exercises, known as asanas, have been developed in India; mastering them allows the activation of the more important nodes, and thus the exercise of control over the body’s physiological operations.

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