Found myself at the Mind Body Spirit Festival. I was there because the nutritionist Gudrun Jonsson, thinks that Dr Roy Martina is the best thing since sliced bread or in her case: sliced pumpkin. Gudrun helps many performers who’ve worked on through injuries and extreme tiredness only to inadvertently cause the breakdown of their digestive system. This in turn affects their voice.
I admired Roy Martina straightaway as a charismatic speaker. He has a warm, honey voice with a touch of a Dutch accent crossed with a Caribbean accent. Winning his audience over in the first sentence he said, “women tend to like me, I don’t know why but please be kind to the few men in the audience.”
He spoke for over 2 hours and his enthusiasm for his subject and tireless answering of questions were commendable. After we’d all completed a deep relaxation and severed a few links from the past, we went downstairs to see what was happening in the rest of the festival. I saw an extraordinary demonstration by a company called Innersound. They give Qi energy courses.
The practitioner massages the client and transmits energy into their body by emitting a sound that resembles air being blown down a drinking straw. Using large amounts of breath propelled by the abdominal muscles, the practitioner exhales out while the tongue tip is against the bottom teeth and the tongue blade is raised towards the alveolar ridge. The breath surges into the mouth and bounces against the back of the front teeth before escaping through the tiny space between the top and bottom teeth. Each outburst of sound lasts about a second. Occasionally a practitioner will emit a groan like a blocked drain which is when they come across some really nasty energy that they get rid of through the gurgle sound.
There were some excellent yoga teachers there. In many ways voice and yoga teachings are linked at the hip… Voice exercises are all about releasing your natural voice and yoga is all about releasing your natural energy balance. There are some areas of difference.
There’s a yoga exercise that I practise first thing in the morning where I take short breaths in through my nostrils that fill up my chest like a Michelin tyre. This is great for waking up if you’re a slow burn in the morning but not good for gentle voice release.
One yoga exercise that I’ve used in my voice classes since the year dot, is the ancient Lion’s face and tongue exercise. Stand in alignment in front of a mirror with your arms relaxed by your sides, palms facing forwards. Your feet should be comfortably apart and knees relaxed but not bent. Breathe out completely and in through the nose for 5 so that your middle back and ribcage expand. Breathe out on a loud “hahhhh” sound taking care to keep your throat open and relaxed and simultaneously raise your hands, fingers outstretched and placed either side of your face. At the same time open your eyes and mouth wide with your tongue curled towards the chin as far as it will go…… Relax into your first position while breathing in through the nose. Repeat three times.
You’ll see why it’s called the lion. It reminds me of the start of a New Zealand’s rugby match.