Too much to do, too little time gets to us all with varying degrees of anxiety, tension and stress which all affects our voice.
All voice over artists understand and practice good vocal warm ups, but these don’t necessarily release the tension and stress within.
One of the best ways to remedy this in regards to our voice is by focussing on our breathing. I am fortunate to have a Mother who is a highly qualified, expertly trained and many years experienced Yoga teacher. So I asked her to teach me a simple exercise I could do to focus and cleanse my mind and to restore some ‘mindfulness’ before facing my microphone.
Yoga offers many breathing practices and the very first and basic one called ‘The Cleansing Ha-Breath’ is excellent for the voice and also for relieving stress and tension.
- Stand well, evenly on both feet, head light on your neck. Swallow to relax your throat.
- Breathe in through your nose, as deeply as you can and as you do so raise both arms above your head.
- Pause with lungs full – then as you fold over forwards from the hips, release your breath with a long and explosive haaaa through a wide open mouth – also bringing your arms down quite forcefully with the body. (If you have a bad back don’t fold over, just keep upright but exhale as you bring your arms down)
- Breathe back in through nostrils as you roll back up your spine to be upright.
- Do this at least 3 times then to gentle neck roll exercises afterwards.
The emphasis is on an explosive ‘H’ sound to make your diaphragm work and then a long ‘aaaaa’ to open the throat, clear lungs of stale air.
We can all get too busy and in our work we focus on the tone of our voice or the character style or the word count in the time frame, the list goes on. To bring it all back to the moment mindfully breathing and releasing our tension before we proceed is the best beginning for a brilliant vocal session.