Intrepid Travelers Part III: Voice and Body Sequence Post-Travel

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Taken on my travels to Le Poet-Celard, France

 

Welcome home intrepid travelers!

Travel often means a lot of times sitting in confined spaces, which can lead to tension, soreness and a general feeling of contraction. This body and breath sequence is designed to help you release physical tensions, stretch your muscles, and reconnect to the breath either after or during travel. It’s focused on reconnecting you to your body and your breath, so that you can ease back into your normal voice routine. Especially if you do a lot of traveling! (I’m looking at you, touring actors.)

Enjoy and as always, feel free to leave comments and questions below.

Take good care,

Christine and Lindsay

Intrepid Travelers Edition Part II: Celebrating Cultural Voice!

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Hello Friends!

As you might remember from our post last week, Christine and I are doing a little traveling. The weather has been warm, wine has flowed and we’ve been enjoying some lovely adventures with friends and family. 

Given my interest in voice and communication, listening to and observing the people around me when I travel is one of my favorite parts. To be fair it’s also an amazing part of living in the always cosmopolitan London. Hearing the rhythms and textures of different languages is a wonderful reminder of human creativity. Deciphering  acts of communication where the words are unfamiliar is a reminder of shared experiences and emotions. 

In the spirit of embracing voice and communication across cultures familiar and foreign today’s post offers a few simple suggestions for how to be a mindful ambassador of your own unique cultural voice:

  • Be aware of your surroundings and their significance. I’ll face right up to this one. As a citizen of the USA the perception I’m often met with in other countries is that my communication will be loud, brash and twangy. Which it is sometimes. Frankly it comes in handy making friends (or getting a drink) out at bar, beach, sporting event or anywhere lively. However when I find myself in a more hallowed location I try to be mindful of my volume (or just silent) and quietly considerate of my body language. 

To many of us this sounds starkly obvious but I think it’s important to maintain an awareness. I had an interesting experience in Paris this week. Walking through Sacré-Coeur I was surprised at how many tourists were being slightly noisy and not very considerate of those around them, it made me a bit sad. Later in the day I went to the famed book shop Shakespeare and Company and although it was similar cycle of tourists moving through, there was this wonderful quiet and patience that allowed me to absorb the environment with much more presence. Two spaces, sacred in their own ways, and two very different sets of behavior.

  • Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Traveling has lots of extremes: thrills, exhaustion, heat, frustration, release. There’s a whole spectrum of feeling to be experienced. It’s important to remember this can take its toll at the low points and deserves to be savored at the high points. Our breath helps with both. Stressed out after running for your flight? Lost something important? Dealing with someone difficult? Take a few moments to send the breath to your lower belly. It can help to find a little pattern: inhale for 5, hold for 5, exhale for 5 (we’re talking seconds here). You’ll soothe your nervous system and hopefully find your way back to vacation mode. Looking at a beautiful sunset? Enjoying an amazing meal? Sharing a unique moment with a loved one? Get a little mindfulness and gratitude boost by actively breathing in the scene and sending your focus to the feet to feel grounded and present.

Giving yourself the space to take things in and find a moment of self-care will help you communicate with more patience, clarity, and openness.

  • Use your mouth! (Haha.) But really. In places where the language is different to yours don’t be afraid to give it a whirl! My French may be clumsy and probably sounds very sad to French people but it’s fun brain exercise and the gesture is always appreciated. Even the most aloof Parisienne will have the slightest softness to their steely gaze if you address them in French first. They may immediately speak to you in English but it’s the effort that counts. Again I realize this sounds like travel 101 but from a communication perspective it makes your experience all the richer. You also get a real taste of the sounds and shapes of a language which is great for cultivating mindfulness in speech generally. 

It can feel vulnerable trying to speak in a way that’s unfamiliar but try to find grace in that. If you’re corrected, remember it’s just a way someone’s trying to help even if it seems a tad blunt. Ask questions, pick up new expressions. For those of us who encounter tourists regularly, (I’ll be the first to admit it can be a bit grating) remember you’re in a position of power. You can make someone’s day and experience memorable for all the right reasons with a little kindness and time.

Traveling through France at the moment it’s impossible not to consider the horrific tragedy in Nice last week. Fortunately there are productive things we can do to combat hate and terror. One of the simplest is to travel, to learn about the people we share this planet with. Another, whether traveler or host, is to have the courage to communicate with openness and compassion toward other cultures, and each other. 

Take good care and travel well!

Lindsay

Voice on the Road: Vocal Care Tips for Intrepid Travelers

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We are finally getting some flashes of summertime weather over here in the UK, and Lindsay and I are soaking up as much as we can. Summer is my favorite season in England— the days are long and if you’re lucky it gets warm but not too hot, so it’s perfect for day-long outdoor escapades. But my favorite part about summer is taking the time to travel. Lindsay and I both have some exciting trips coming up, so we thought we’d do a series on how to take care of your voice when you’re on the road. Here are some quick tips for good vocal care while traveling: 

  • Stay Hydrated. This one is important all the time, but especially if you’re traveling on planes, where the altitude and dry recycled plane air can really dry out the vocal folds. Choose water over sugary drinks or tea/coffee. Alcohol is always dehydrating but is especially so on planes. So if you decide to imbibe, make sure you also drink plenty of water. 
  • Take care of your body. To take care of the voice, you have to start by taking care of the body. Traveling, particularly when it involves sitting for long hours at a time, can be hard on the body. It can cause extraneous tension and pain as well as swelling, none of which is great for having the loose, free alignment you need to produce clear, healthy sound. So once you arrive, make sure you take some time to stretch your body, even if just for 5 minutes. (We have some lovely body sequences in the Voice For Beginners section you could use as a guide). It’s also a good idea to take care of your body while you’re in transit, particularly if it’s a long journey. Yoga with Adriene (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHTcr7F1QiY) has an excellent airplane sequence which you can do while sitting in a chair. No one will even know you’re stretching— it’s amazing! I did this sequence several times the last time I flew back to the States, and it made a huge difference not only in how I felt on the day of travel, but in how quickly my body recovered from the travel in the days that followed. 
  • Find 5 minutes a day to do a brief Vocal Warm up/check-in: It can be hard to find time when you’re traveling to warm up your voice, but doing something brief each day will keep you in the zone and keep your voice strong and healthy while you’re traveling. I tend to stick with things I can do while I get ready for my day, like a lot of humming up and down my range and making fricative sounds while checking in with support. (Check out some of our voice warm ups if you’re not sure what I’m talking about!) I do these while I’m showering, dressing, getting my hair ready, etc, just to check in and warm things up a bit. It means I don’t totally get out of the habit of warming up my voice, and my voice feels better while I’m on vacation. 

Do you have any other tips to maintain a healthy voice and vocal routine while traveling? We would love to hear them. Until then, happy and safe travels! 

Take good care,

Christine

Restore Yourself! Restorative warm-up and cool-down…

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Hello friends!

A lot is happening in the world at the moment. Britain is leaving the EU, Trump is running for president— it can all get a little much sometimes! If you are feeling a bit weighed down by the world’s events, and at the same time find that you are having to communicate with others a lot, then this is a great restorative practice for you.

This week’s practice is designed to be either a warm up or a cool-down. It’s a voice and body practice that will be beneficial if you’re feeling physically and/or vocally tired, but still have work to do.  It will get the voice and body released and then flexible, with a focus on physical release, breath and gentle sound. We certainly felt restored after making it. Let us know what you think!

take good care,

Christine and Lindsay