There are lots of ways that people express courage. A person who is stiff, weak and doesn’t breathe well is as brave as an astronaut when they sign up for their first yoga course.
I thought that I demonstrated this sort of courage when I joined Wingsong Choir six years ago, having never been in a choir before.
I don’t think of myself as a singer. I don’t sing in the shower. I can’t remember lyrics or even which band recorded what album. However, I do love music.
Remarkably, I discovered that when I’m carried along on the wings of my choir, I can sing. I’m probably not going to do any solos soon, and I still don’t sing in the shower, but with our regular weekly choir practice, my singing has improved. It’s simply a joy to join with people in creating harmony.
Yoga for Singers
I lead our group in yoga-type stretches at the beginning of the sessions, and everyone follows along as I demonstrate and instruct. I offer exercises that will prepare us for singing, so we do movements that open up the lungs, loosen the rib cage and release tension from shoulders. I can hear audible sighs of relief when choir members let go of their shoulder tightness, whether the tension has come from physical work and/or stress. Most of our choir members are not yogis, and some of them come to practice dressed in their work clothes, so we don’t do any complicated poses. Shoulder shrugs and rolls, pelvis rotations, arms-up side stretches, standing twists, and of course, attention to breath.
However, if you are a more experienced practitioner, and you like to sing, here’s what you can do to keep your lungs in good shape. The following program will also help you address upper back and shoulder tension.
First, get centred in Tadasana, the basic pose. Then, do downward facing dog pose with your hands on on the seat of a chair to stretch your shoulders. Follow this with some standing poses: triangle, forward fold with your hands on a chair or the floor, warrior 1, forward fold with a concave back, holding your shins, twisting triangle. Try forearm balance to energise your lungs and then sooth them with a shoulderstand.
Remember that even a short yoga practice should include a relaxation. A rule of thumb is 5 minutes for every 30 minutes of poses you’ve done.
This weekend we’re off to celebrate my housemate Heather’s 70th birthday at a singing workshop with Brian Martin. It’s to be held at the Stroud Monastery and includes Afro Cuban dance, TaKeTiNa, and, of course, a cappella singing.