Gabi Markham: 5 Top Tips for Vocal Health!
Most teachers have experienced problems with their voice at some point. Gabi Markham is a yoga teacher and trained singer/actor so she understands the importance of keeping the voice in tip top condition. Here are her 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 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 my Voice and the Yoga Teacher workshop.
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. Come along to my Voice and the Yoga Teacher Course where I 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.
Gabi Markham’s Voice and the Yoga Teacher Course takes place on January 27th & 28th 2018. Early Bird Discount available if booked before December 1st. For further information and to book your place, click here.