Because most of our senses are focused forward, our speaking and singing voice can get stuck in the front. It may be overly nasal or strident, lacking in depth or power. We can easily forget the back of our body. So, we have to consciously bring our awareness into the back to access the fullness of our voice.
The trick here is that it truly is about resting back into yourself rather than working, striving or pushing on your voice. In today’s exercise, I’m going to ask you to let go of tension in many parts of your body. But before doing that, I’d like you to turn your awareness towards a part of your Self that I call the worker. You might know it as a part that is controlling, pushy or that is always driving you to do the next thing. Sound familiar? Don’t make it a bad thing. We all have one!
So, now that you’ve acknowledged that part, I’d like you to ask it to step back so you can do this exercise. You can ask it silently or out loud. You might say something along these lines. “If it’s okay with you, I’d like you to step back for a moment so I can learn about just being with myself, rather than working at it. Then, you can come right back and help out with the next thing!” Get the picture?
An Exercise in Awareness and Breathing:
In order to rest into your back body, you need to let go of the front. That may sound simple, but you’d be surprised! So here goes. I’m going to ask you to close your eyes, so you’ll need to read the directions before you begin. Or even better, have someone else read the directions to you at a relaxing pace.
Find a chair that supports your back and sit with both feet planted firmly on the ground. Lengthen the back of your neck and allow your chin to come down and in slightly.
Close your eyes and send a message to your brain to release the tension that comes with always having to focus on looking at things.
Now, send a message to allow the breath in. Let it be a natural, easy breath. There’s no need to make it big or full. Remember, the worker is taking a break.
Let your tongue lie relaxed on your lower lip.
Let go of your jaw.
Place your awareness in the back of your throat, feeling the coolness of the breath flowing in and out.
Now, there’s one more thing that I want you to let go of and it may not be easy!
Let go of your belly.
In order for your back body to expand and open – for the ribs to move up and out – and for the diaphragm to move down – you need to let go of your belly. Don’t get me wrong, it is great to have strong core muscles. But to have a full and free voice, you need to be able to release them, as well. So, are you ready? Let it all hang out!!
To sense the movement of your breath and the back body opening, I’d like you to place one hand on your side ribs and the other on your belly.
Continue to allow the breath in and out and notice what happens. Remember, you don’t need to take the breath in, simply allow it in. Is there movement under your hands? Are the ribs moving out? Is your belly moving at all? I don’t want you to DO anything to make things move. Simply pay attention. If your back is touching a chair, you may sense your back expanding against the chair.
This whole exercise is about letting go of tension and holding in the front body, in order to allow the back body to open. This may take some practice.
So, when your worker is tiring you out. Take a moment to just be with your whole body and feel the space expanding inside you. This practice will bring support, beauty and power into your voice!