Category: Voice Therapy

Returning to Breath

I have been practicing yoga for about 15 years now. I was first introduced to yoga 20 years ago by my then sister-in-law. I remember feeling annoyed at the repetitive instruction of breathing, thinking “How redundant…just tell me how to do a pose. I know how to breathe.” I went on to other instructors who also kept telling me to breathe and my agitation continued.

It wasn’t until years into my practice that I understood the magic of breath. This was helped along by beginning a meditation practice where I once again was told to focus on my breath. “Again with the breathing.” I thought. Even though I had been teaching breath techniques to my voice clients for years under the lens of physiology, it was my own work with breath that led me to understand its gift.

You see we breathe in the absence of thought. Some say “we are breathed.”  Breath just happens. When I am focusing on my breath there is no need for thought because breathing does not require thinking. I was resisting this for many years because my thinking mind did not know what to do if it was not, well… thinking. It suffered a mini demise every time I observed my breath. And so my mind argued and complained to keep its puffed-up feeling of importance and in doing so it kept me from discovering my true nature …that of profound peace.

For years my clients had reported to me how working with their breath was helping them in all areas of their life, not just improving the sound of their voice.  It was through my own practices that I discovered how mindful breathing improved my focus, endurance, and reduced anxiety. But the ultimate gift is the quieting of my mind out of which a distinctly different inner voice arises. An inspired voice that brings forth a wisdom that can only be born out of silence. My true voice.

Ironically, it is when I am in this state I often have little or no desire to speak but if speech arises it is very different from my daily small talk. It is compassionate yet direct and spoken with an assurance that is absent the anxiousness that comes from thought. It is the result of me reconnecting to my true self and it starts with my breath.

I have moved several times during the last decade and in each new location I set out to find a new yoga home. Now I know If I try a class whose instructor does not emphasize breathing it’s not for me. Yes, IT IS as simple as observing your breath and that simplicity spells doom for your habitual thinking mind. And gives birth to your inner peace and joy that allows you to hear and honor your authentic voice.

 

Kristina Kelly is a speech therapist in Asheville, NC who specializes in voice therapy and voice coaching

Whose Voice Is This? Voice and Identity

Recently one of my clients, a singer who came to me with vocal nodules, was making breakthroughs with her voice. She was discovering how allowing her natural voice to arise created a beautiful yet unfamiliar sound that was so abundantly powerful it caught her by surprise. Instead of forcing her voice with tension, she began relaxing and through the use of breath, she released her voice. This created an ease in which volume, pitch, and resonance were effortlessly synchronized resulting in such an amazingly beautiful sound she asked: “Whose voice is this?

Your voice is a combination of genetics and beliefs you have formed through experience. If you have developed a belief that you are small and limited you may suppress your voice by remaining silent or speaking quietly. Or you may demand to be heard and force your voice becoming loud and boisterous. In my client’s case, she felt the only way to be “heard” was by speaking loudly which she did by overly tensing resulting in vocal nodules, a condition that threatened her livelihood. To be sure, as a rock singer in a band she was often speaking in loud environments and mistakenly believed that the “edginess’ of her genre required extreme effort. The problem being she never adjusted her voice to match her changing speaking environment. When in a quiet one on one environment, she appeared to be yelling at her communication partner.

Through voice therapy, my client discovered her authentic voice had so much more depth and range than her habitual, contrived voice she admittedly found  “it” somewhat frightening. The discovery that she could effortlessly produce this beautifully flexible voice that was so naturally attractive she did not have to be demanding caused her to question her identity.

Are you ready to reveal your true power? There is a readiness factor in honoring your voice. In my client’s case, this was prompted by a medical condition which turned out to be the proverbial blessing in disguise. Your voice is tied deeply to your identity.  Uncovering your authentic voice helps reveal who you really are. And the opposite is equally true: the journey of self-discovery leads you to uncover your authentic voice.

Can you accept the limitless depth and range of your true self and allow that to be naturally expressed through your voice?  Oh, It will change things guaranteed but aren’t you tired of playing small? I know it’s hard to believe but it requires much more effort to play small.  Why waste your precious energy when you can create a more expansive and easier life by honoring your voice?

Kristina Kelly is a speech therapist in Asheville, NC who specializes in voice therapy and voice coaching.