My ability to phonate is greater than my self-critic’s tendency to hesitate.
Onset—the moment when the vocal folds initiate sound—represents a fundamental building block of healthy phonation. YogaVoice® unites the pedagogical principle of onset with the first chakra, or root. Located in the base of the spine, feet and legs and symbolized by the earth, the first chakra represents grounding, trust, existence, nourishment, safety, and basic needs—the fundamentals of life and self-expression.
Often, our self-critic causes us to pause and question our initial sound—“am I in tune?”…”will my voice be clear?”…”am I good enough?”…”will people like my voice?…”is it safe to share my voice?” These moments of hesitation can stall phonation, causing an aspirate OR forced onset, and unnecessary muscle tension as the tongue retracts (a literal “hold your tongue!”) and the soft palate depresses in an attempt to regain control. This double-checking-it-at-the-door mentality can reinforce physical and psychological silencing and a mistrust of initial onset, a mistrust of the voice, a mistrust of the Self.
In voice pedagogy, we use SOVT exercises, mess di voce, articulation, and other respiration-to-phonation tactics to coordinate balanced onset throughout the vocal registers. To include a mindful approach, remind your self-critic that your vocal folds WANT to come together! Your body knows how to function, you can sing from wholeness. In your singing practice, explore yoga postures like mountain, chair, or warrior 1-2 with onset and release exercises in warm-ups or repertoire to release and ground the first chakra. Affirmations might include:
I can take up physical and acoustic space
I trust my body, I trust my voice
The ground supports me
I am here
I will not be silenced
My body is safe, singing is safe