MEGAN DURHAM

Exhaling With Sound: Yoga for the Choral Ensemble

For many voice users, an overactive stress response in performance situations, or even general anxiety and/or depression, leads to unwanted muscle tension, which can significantly contribute to vocal difficulty. The body’s stress response is managed by the autonomic nervous system, which also controls the function of the digestive, respiratory and cardiovascular systems. Research suggests that mindfulness practices like meditative breathing, yoga and chanting help to regulate the autonomic nervous system, effectively calming the body’s response to intense emotional situations.

In order to maximize vocal potential, choral directors and singers must become more aware of how the whole body, including the autonomic nervous system, impacts vocal production. This session will identify common areas where singers hold counterproductive muscle tension, illustrate how that tension affects the voice, and introduce elements of yoga as techniques to coordinate optimal phonation. Participants will engage in basic yoga postures and link them to specific ways they can be used to improve vocal production, mental focus, and even the brain’s response to anxiety and depression.