I'm very excited to announce that this year's YogaVoice Intensive is scheduled for August 1-5 in Harleysville PA. Once again, our venue is the Church of the Holy Spirit (Episcopal), a wonderful, open, welcoming space, with beautiful surrounding grounds, that will allow us to explore all that the YogaVoice practice has to offer. Denise Mihalik, a YogaVoice practitioner and Sound Healer extraordinaire, will participate in a Sound Healing Evening on Wednesday 8/3, from 7-9, also at the church. We plan to incorporate Tibetan Bowls, chanting, meditation, and Reiki. It will be a beautiful evening. Intensive participants will attend as part of their week's experience. The evening will also be open to the public, on a donation basis.
All the details and pricing info are in the Intensive description. Early registration (10% discount) ends July 11. This year, I am also offering a significant student discount. Please contact me with any questions.
Peace and Namaste,
I'm just back from a wonderful and inspiring week in Ecuador, where I had the lovely fortune to teach YogaVoice for four days in Quito. I am more than grateful to my hosts, the Salazar family, for their beautiful hospitality that made me truly feel as though I was part of their family. The food was outstanding and their warmth and friendship will never be forgotten.
We talk in YogaVoice about Yoga as a technology that brings together aspects of life and art that appear as "opposites", unifying these into a cohesive and comprehensive "whole". My trip to Quito was a "Yoga"... a yoking and union of cultures and people who found common language through the YogaVoice practice and the joy of authentic music making. Special thanks goes to Andrea Salazar for her incredible talent as a translator and interpreter. Every concept and nuance of the YogaVoice teaching was expertly communicated in Spanish with clarity so that every participant was able to embody the teaching. In the end, the union of Yoga, breath, and music proved to be the common language that brought a wholeness to us all.
I look forward to future YogaVoice sessions in Ecuador!
We are celebrating two "firsts" for YogaVoice!
I will be traveling to Quito, Ecuador next week for three days of Masterclasses and a song recital at the beautiful Casa de la Musica. I am very excited to meet new friends there and to share the YogaVoice program within an entirely new culture and environment. I'm grateful, in advance, for my student Andrea Salazar who will be my host and interpreter while I'm there!
I am also very excited to announce the first YogaVoice retreat in collaboration with The Travel Yogi by Gaiam. I will be leading a beautiful and meaningful week at the Prana del Mar resort in Baja Mexico, January 9-16, 2016. Morning and evening yoga sessions will "bookend" days of relaxation in the Baja sun, whale watching, horseback riding on the beach, snorkeling, or simply a quiet retreat. I am told that the food and amenities at Prana are outstanding. I chose this time of year and location because it offers two lovely qualities: the warmth of the sun and the opportunity to "reset" between a busy holiday season and the start of the new year. Check out the Baja Retreat page for more details and to link to the Travel Yogi.
I am grateful to all for the many wonderful and ever-evolving opportunities to share YogaVoice. Yoga and singing are life-shaping practices that bring beauty and meaning to individual lives and to the culture at large.
Peace and Namaste!
Health and wellness are the natural states of the human organism. Your mind, body and spirit are powerful allies, designed to work together to promote balance and the positive restoration of health when you are confronted with negative health stressors. In a nutshell, what you think (mind), what you believe (spirit) can affect how you feel (body) and how you feel can affect your thinking and your beliefs; the three are an inseparable “trinity” that are constantly endeavoring to keep you healthy and whole in all aspects of your being.
The current trend in healthcare is to acknowledge the role of the body/mind/spirit matrix as a “unified field” and to promote wellness and disease prevention by honoring the interconnected roles played by each of these parts of the human organism. One example of this is demonstrated in how people respond to stress. Emotional and mental responses to life events and circumstances (e.g., jobs, finances, relationships) can cause physical symptoms such as tense muscles, pain, headaches, and gastro-intestinal problems. At a systemic level, it is well documented that chronic stress may also lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and other serious health problems. When we experience physical discomfort, our emotions become affected and our beliefs about our “lot in life”, or who we truly are as spiritual beings, can be negatively influenced. In turn, anger, depression, anxiety and increased worry might affect how well we treat, manage, or cope with our physical suffering. But the mind can have a positive effect on our health, too. Research suggests that having a positive outlook on life might help a person stay healthier, or better handle pain or stress when it does arise, than someone who is less hopeful. People of faith draw upon this dimension: belief that there is more to life and reality than what is seen and felt on an individual level.
While current medical research is describing how stress can be linked to most of the chronic illnesses or degenerative physical conditions many people encounter, techniques for mind/body/spirit wellness (practices that calm and balance the nervous system, relieve stress, and promote wellness) are rapidly gaining serious attention among healthcare providers. These include deep breathing, guided imagery, mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR), progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, laughter, and music making (specifically singing and chanting). Each of these practices establishes a coordinated connection between a person’s attention/concentration (mind) and the physical body. When techniques like these are explored deeply, spiritual meaning can arise; the communication with this deeper experience has often described as contemplative prayer. In this state, the mind/body/spirit matrix is balanced to create a unified environment of profound systemic calm and health: wellness. Music listening and music making are emerging as especially interesting and enjoyable preventative health practices because they bring into one experience several of these relaxation and restorative techniques (i.e., measured breathing, muscle relaxation, imagination, mindfulness). This is one of the fundamental principles of the YogaVoice practice.
Wellness is a perceptible experience within oneself that comes from a harmony of mind, body, and spirit. Wellness is the “new” paradigm for proactive prevention of disease and optimal quality of life. Yet, current “advances” in wellness technology may actually be a rediscovery of simple, ancient wisdom; yogis have experienced the health benefits that modern wellness techniques promote, over centuries of cultivated practice. Singing and chanting are fun, creative and inspiring ways to being body, mind, and spirit into a harmony of being.
Just wanted to update you on some upcoming events and deadlines that are approaching for YogaVoice workshops and retreats this summer.
I will be in historic Fredricksburg, VA for a weekend workshop hosted by St George's Episcopal Church, July 18-20. Link to the information flier and registration info here. On the Friday evening session I will share YogaVoice practices for "Fearless Public Speaking". The Saturday session is titled "Your Authentic Voice", in which I teach the core YogaVoice practices, including the YogaVoice Vocal Vinyasa. The Sunday session, "Your Healing Voice", will examine the role of listening and singing on our health and wellness. Yoga postures, yoga breathing, singing and chanting will be part of each session. Space is limited, so please
The July 1 deadline is approaching for early registration (reduced pricing) for the YogaVoice East Coast Intensive. The course will meet daily, 9:30-4:30, during the week of July 28-Aug 1 in Harleysville, PA. This is an immersion course into the YogaVoice practice and blends daily teachings and practices in asana, pranayama, meditation, and singing. Link to the Intensive info flier and registration details here. I am also very happy to announce that Randy and Marianne Sutin (and friends) will be providing live music for a restorative yoga and sound healing evening on August 30th from 7-9pm, also at Church of the Holy Spirit in Harleysville. This will be a very special evening, open to the larger community, and is included as part of the week's activities for the Intensive participants.
Yoga Cape May is sponsoring what will be a beautiful weekend YogaVoice retreat on the tip of Cape May, NJ, Sept 5-7. As in other weekend retreats, we will explore how yoga and singing combine to bring authenticity and wellness to our lives. Teaching and practice sessions will be offset with time for meditative practice at the beach. The weekend will also include a very special kirtan on Saturday evening with certified YogaVoice Practitioner, Denise Mihalik. Here are links to the information flier and registration form.
That's the news...as you can see it's a busy and exciting summer for YogaVoice events. I hope to see you along the way!
I'm happy to announce that the 2014 East Coast YogaVoice Intensive will be held at the Church of the Holy Spirit (Episcopal) in Harleysville, PA, from July 28 - Aug 1. This is a 5-day immersion program which will cover the essential aspects of the YogaVoice practice. Many participants in the past have experienced dramatic breakthroughs during the program and once again, it promises to be a fascinating and informative week. This summer's session will also include two special evening events. You can read a description of the entire week here.
Early-bird registration will be offered at a discount until July 1.
I am very excited to announce that we are now planning two week-long YogaVoice Intensives for May 20-24 and 27-31, 2014 at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. This will be a rare opportunity to take the two 40-hr Intensives that are required for Practitioner Certification, back-to-back. I am grateful for the efforts and energy of many new friends whom I met during my workshop for the Valley of the Sun NATS chapter last fall. Thank you for your enthusiastic interest and for moving this project forward.
The May 20-24 Intensive course will cover the foundations of the YogaVoice system and will encourage each participant in it's direct application to their own singing. This course is open to a general audience....it has proven to be transformational for many singers of varying abilities and experience.
The May 27-31 Practicum is a continuation of the exploration started in the prior Intensive with a specific view to learning the "why and how" of teaching YogaVoice to others. Completion of these two courses can lead to Practitioner Certification. Please visit the "Practitioner Certification" tab for more specific information.
Spread the word! It should great couple of weeks in the Valley of the Sun!
Namaste and welcome!
This website is a place where ideas and information can be shared as we explore the fascinating relationship of Yoga to singing, the performing arts, and authentic communication in our everyday lives.
I acknowledge, with deep gratitude, my mentors and teachers who have been so helpful and important in my journey in Yoga: Dr Robert Butera, Kristen Butera, Larry Payne, PhD, the fine teachers at the YogaLife Institute, Denise Mihalik who has collaborated with me and provided invaluable research and expertise in the area of Yoga chanting, and all my students who continue to inspire and allow me to grow as a Yoga practitioner and teacher. I also wish to acknowledge my musical mentors who gave me a depth of knowledge and understanding about the singing voice and performing on the lyric stage, over the course of a 30-year career: Professor Richard Miller at Oberlin, Alan Montgomery, Judith Layng, Sam Sakarian, Michael Warren, William McIver, Benton Hess, Colin Graham, Dr Christopher Arneson... to name but a few.
YogaVoice, the application of Classical Yoga technology for the personal and professional needs of performing artists, public speakers, and anyone who wishes to improve their creative and communication skills, represents my life's work as an artist and as an educator. It is my passion to bring this information to as many people as possible because I am confident that it has benefits for all and, by extension, for the integrity of our culture. I am indebted to several colleagues who have supported my work from the beginning and who continue to do so by providing opportunities for me to share YogaVoice in various educational settings, notably Scott Hoerl, Laura Brooks Rice, and Dr James Jordan at Westminster Choir College.
Most importantly, however, I acknowledge those students and workshop participants who come to YogaVoice with open minds and eager hearts…those who intuit that there are deeper levels of Self that need to be expressed in their lives as artists. The enduring power of Yoga technology and its specific application to the artistry of communication is the "magic" that accomplishes these breakthroughs. I always feel honored to be present when a person uncovers his/her true voice... the YogaVoice.
Stress can be defined as: "a separation, compartmentalization, or fragmentation of the mind/body/Spirit matrix in a human being, resulting in a loss of whole-person awareness and a state of disharmony." While most of us can identify the stress in our lives, and the physical, mental and spiritual suffering that results, it is helpful to have some strategies to help balance our reactions and reintegrate our "whole person". Perhaps the most important tool for combating stress is found in our own breathing. Research has clearly documented the benefits of deep, rhythmic, slow breathing when it comes to combatting stress. Combined with a mindful attitude of "observing" the breath as it comes in and out of the body, slow, rhythmic breathing has a calming effect on the nervous system that brings the mind/body matrix back to a state of equilibrium (homeostasis), promoting health and creativity.
While simple, holistic breathing techniques can aid us when we are already confronted with a stress response, unifying our Spirit in our daily work and activities is a vital step in living proactively with less stress. Our Purpose in life (defined by identifying the deepest desires of our hearts) can form the foundation of an intentional lifestyle. Channeling our intention through a process of acceptance, concentration, excellence, and non-attachment to the results of our actions, we are able to bring the purpose that is at the core of our being to our everyday activities. In this way, everything we do on a daily basis can be viewed as spiritual practice, and our body, mind, and Spirit (our WHOLE self) moves toward unification and optimal health.
YogaVoice teaches the practitioner to coordinate conscious breathing with sound, body movement, and creative intention. In this way, we reintegrate parts of ourselves that may previously have been fragmented and separated. The effect is that the stress response is balanced and that the mind/body is able to learn new patterns that are constructive and conducive to the unified state of being that is the basis for authentic creativity.
The human voice, in the service of artistic expression, is a complex instrument comprised of muscles, tendons, joints, and cartilage that must work in a balanced coordination with an individual’s intellect, thought, and inspiration; the vocal instrument may be understood to be the self-expressive manifestation of a person’s entire mind-body matrix. When physical tensions, psychic blocks, or emotional stress and anxiety are present in the act of singing a song or chanting a mantra, the physical instrument is blocked from accomplishing the activity that is demanded of it by the music. Simply put, the singer’s body/mind must be ready and available for the creative activity at hand.
Classical Yoga can be employed as a technology to address physical and mental blocks that inhibit the free and authentic expression of the singing voice. Physical postures (asana), breath control exercises (pranayama), sensory awareness and control (pratyahara), stress reduction (yama/niyama), and mental focusing exercises (meditation) can aid the singer in becoming more attuned to her/himself. Yoga practices achieve the "whole person" balance that encourages freedom of expression. This is true for professional singers as well as amateur chanters; both endeavor to express themselves more openly, freely, and authentically.
YogaVoice employs a pedagogical philosophy that views the learner as a “whole”, and recognizes that educating the whole person is the key to authentic, integrative, transformative learning.