Yoga and Singing

Some exciting news – I start training as a Yoga Teacher this Saturday in Yoga Dublin, it is an intensive 200-hour programme which I will complete over the next four months.

I have been practising yoga on and off for about ten years. I started taking beginner classes with Luna in Yoga Dublin on Dartmouth Lane. I then started studying with Colm Walsh, and for a period was attending a mixed level 2 hour class on Friday morning. This was an amazing experience. As I remember I was pretty much a beginner and this Friday morning class was regularly attended by me and a couple of yoga teachers – it was always a very small class so had fantastic individual attention.

I think I then got busy for a while but at some point (possibly c. 2011) found myself again looking for regular classes and was often taking classes on Tuesday morning in the new building on Dartmouth Road with Michelle. It was in her classes that I was introduced to the concept of yoga nidra, which I have really taken on board and have done some reading around and listened to various types online.

Again, however life kind of took over and while I stopped attending regular classes I started buying the Yoga Journal most months from Reads and would tend to read through and explore various of the ideas within. Then in August 2013, I attended a week-long retreat with Kanta Barrios in the Burren Yoga Centre. This was in yoga and meditation with some walking also. It was my intention to build up a daily practice and also to really try to remember as much as I could of the cues – on the last day I drew a picture of various of the postures, including the spirals that Kanta was cueing, and the various modifications that Kanta she had specifically suggested I might work with.

From then I was more dipping in and out of various classes, but with this work and the reading I was doing in Yoga Journal, I was beginning to get a sense of the benefits that my yoga was bringing to my work as a singer in particular. I started to integrate my practice within my singing practice and my singing practice within my yoga practice. I started to explore various different options with the breath, rather than dogmatically sticking to the one favoured by pilates teachers in pilates classes, by that favoured by yoga teachers in yoga classes, by the ones favoured by singing teachers when singing – I suppose I was influenced by Feldenkrais also with the suggestion to explore a myriad of different ways of doing things to give your brain something new to do. Often singing practice can be like trying to perfect the exact way of doing something precisely through honing in on the specific skill and improving it all the time, whereas what I was starting to do was to forget all that to try lots of different things and just play around with the idea of just singing.

At the time I was as well as having an active performance career teaching singing and piano to mainly children and teenagers in one-on-one lessons and started to play about with introducing new concepts of mindfulness and interoception into my teaching. For many years I had been teaching with therabands and spiky balls in the class, but I was now starting to introduce more of this new way of practising with my students.

In summer 2016 I took a career break from all of my teaching due to having far too many commitments and starting to have a sense that I was somehow dividing myself in half and was not allowing myself enough headspace to see what was going on in my professional life, which obviously had a knock-on effect in my private life. Also, with music your professional life is truly part of your personality, at all times you are that little kid who got so taken up with creating magic and life out of sound that when that life come under stress and close to cracking point you get this sense of being lost and somehow outside oneself.

That year I decided to book in with The Elbowroom to study advanced yoga and anatomy, a module of the yoga 500 course run by Susan Church and Orla Crosse. I initially thought I would do part of one module on the pelvis / leg and walking, but ended up loving it and I also took part in the weekend modules on the core, the spine and the shoulder also. It was through discussions with the yoga teachers taking the course as well as the two tutors who all seemed to think it would be a viable option while I was not remotely thinking about it.

In early 2017 I took the decision to take a second year career break from teaching music. While I had had a brilliant year with lots of singing, I felt I could do with discovering more focus and to perhaps find something to make my music teaching really connected with the remainder of my work. It was suddenly I think over the summer that I started to really think about the possibility of training as a yoga teacher. For so many years I have been combining my yoga practice with my singing but now was contemplating the possibility of really engaging with the practice so that I can help others. I began reading a lot of different books about fascia and yoga – by Chaitow, Myers, Avison, Sabataini as well as Anat Baniel’s book – Move into Life which I had long intended on reading.

Ultimately I want to bring the sense of fun and enjoyment that I have experienced through both yoga and singing to others in a safe and helpful way. Doing this in both one-on-one sessions and also in group situations, working with budding professional singers, but also with people who just really want to sing, and for whatever reason find that there is something that is making that difficult.

I feel I have the skills to help people to find their authentic voice, to find the place where the sound is just effortlessly flowing and the singer feels at one with nature. The realisation that this isn’t somewhere magic or outside of one, but wholly grounded within you and the possibilities that are contained within you. I have seen the joy on many people’s faces, when they have felt unable to sing, and somehow with some guidance from me and assistance from them something transforms inside them and they produce what to them perhaps is something they thought they could never access. This is what excites me about teaching. Bringing something out of people that they never knew they had within them.

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