I have decided to go with The Potent Voice as a banner under which to gather together the various aspects of the whole-self voice-work that I have been honing and refining over the last 30 years – its essence is fully grounded in The Feldenkrais Method and thus the name feels right…
There are many overlaps with my Feldenkrais meditation work, as the benefits to the health of our nervous system generated by sustaining vocal sounds and focussing our attention on those sounds as we make them has been recognised by science, thanks to the pioneering work Dr Stephen Porges and his ground-breaking PolyVagal Theory of mammalian neurobiology.
Of course those of us who love to sing don’t need extra evidence to encourage us, but the science behind this valuable self-healing tool is fascinating, and the ramifications are huge, so I will be writing more about it, as and when time allows.
If you are not aware of Porges theories this film is a useful introduction – he details the relevance of extending our exhalation, the importance of attentive listening, and the healing potential of music, from around 23 minutes in, but watching the whole film will make all of his ideas much clearer still.
Embodying Your Voice
My Embodied Voice training combines Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® with the state-of-the-art vocal training techniques that have emerged in recent years, thanks to the more refined observational equipment available to modern vocal science.
My intention is to enable anyone who wishes it to develop a flexible, strong, healthy and fully self-expressive voice. Whether your interest is singing, speaking well as an actor or presenter, or freeing your natural voice as part of a self-healing or spiritual development process – and of course any combination of these elements – then there is something in Embodied Voice for you.
I organise the group classes and workshops in such a way that there is no pressure on anyone to perform – the idea is to become more conscious of exactly how your voice works, and to develop your vocal confidence and awareness so that with practice your voice can become fully integrated both physically and emotionally – a totally spontaneous fully-embodied voice. For this reason it is very important that you feel relaxed and able to explore making (often rather silly!) sounds without any embarrassment or self-consciousness.
Functional Integration For Voice
Hands-on muscle-releasing training sessions, focussing on integrating the neck, throat, face, rib cage, and the respiratory (and other) organs.
Feldenkrais comes in two formats, group training, known as Awareness Through Movement®, and individual hands-on training, known as Functional Integration®. Using sensitive touch as a teaching process can be a valuable addition to more familiar methods of vocal training, and may be particularly helpful if you feel your issues with performance are connected to deep muscle tissue holding patterns.
During this period of lockdown, this aspect of my work is obviously on hold, hopefully we will be able to resume some version of normality at some point, in the meantime do not hesitate to contact me directly if you would like to know more, or discuss online alternatives.
Daily Immersive Online Courses:
Techniques for improving your Health & Wellbeing Through Enhanced Neuro-Somatic Self-Regulation
Daily Class At Noon – Online + Recording
February 8th – 12th
12 pm – 1.30 pm £75 / £50 – low income rate*
*Suggested fee or donation still applies
Breathing in a ‘well-organised’ way is the most fundamental of my Feldenkrais fundamentals; during Awareness Through Movement lessons, whatever we are doing we always paying attention to the ease and flow of our breathing
as we are doing it. Using carefully designed breathing strategies for health and well-being are so fundamental that their history goes all the way back to our most ancient cultures, and many of the processes our ancestors used are still in use today – Qi Gong and Pranayama are particularly well-know, but even a brief stint on google reveals links to other less well documented traditions in Africa and Australia, and of course as a singer I am well aware of just how fundamental singing and chanting were to our earliest tribal communities – some researchers even belief that singing pre-dated speech.
Breathing remains one of the most effective and most affordable and most portable of our natural self-healing tools. Our modern-day shamans use different, more secular terminology; the term “hacking” is a particularly popular metaphor and if you google “breath hack” you are offered 13 million results.
I am going to condense the field into something more practical and manageable: five sessions over five days, covering:
Breathing in a naturally-well-coordinated manner – exploring anatomy and function
Breathing as a self-calming practice
Breathing as a self-healing practice (these two naturally overlap; we will be exploring breathing as an energising and vitalising process, as well as a soothing process)
Breathing as a chanting practice – a core aspect of working with the vagal nervous system.
Breathing as a practice for improving posture and accessing graceful motion
Many of these practices benefit us in multiple ways as you would expect in the effective maintenance of any complex system – when we drink enough water more than one aspect of our health gets a boost. Many of the ancient techniques seem familiar because they are so similar to each other. Essentially, we can inhale in a particular manner, and we can exhale in a particular manner, and we can pause our breath at a particular moment – it is a testament to human ingenuity that there are so many books about it!
So, this will be good fun, as I intend all my Feldenkrais Fundamentals to be. I will be writingmore about this but there are already quite a few relevant articles on my website, and I am beginning to post recordings up on YouTube as I go along.
Sunday January 24th – Online + Recording
2 pm – 4.30 pm
Any consonant-like sound you can sustain can stabilise your breathing, and any vocal sound you can sustain will generate vibrations throughout your being. Any vibratory sound you make with focussed awareness and whole-self attention can help you shift out of a more aroused, sympathetic “stress response” state (the familiar shorthand for which is ‘fight/flight/freeze’) into the calmer, parasympathetic nervous state (also characterised as ‘restore/replenish/recuperate/renew’). The more easily we can access our resonant vibratory vocal sounds, the more freely we can sense their vibratory quality throughout our physical being, and the more easily we can focus our attention on our capacity for whole-self-sensing. Gentle but persistent vibration is a powerful tool for freeing up areas of blockage and resistance everywhere within ourselves, and it is a well-being tool that is always available to us, no matter where we are.
In this workshop we will be using sustainable sounds to fine-tune our sensory-motor and auditory awareness, and learning to reduce the habitual [and quite unnecessary] constrictions and constraints inhibiting our expressive self – vocal structures, respiratory structures, diaphragms and sphincters, and the fascio-musculo-skeletal system that together form the physical foundations of our natural resonance and vocal power.
Use the contact form to ask me any questions or make a booking.
Sensory-Self-Awareness for Self-Healing
7 – 9 pm
Online + Recording £20*
(*suggested fee or donation)
These extended evening classes focus on my Feldenkrais-based self-healing strategies, and the recordings are intended to make it very easy for you to develop these skills for yourself. I am exploring the evening format with the intention of supporting better sleep as well as pain relief and self-calming.
One seldom-discussed aspect of the potency of the voice is the influential presence of an internal voice, constantly commentating on our lives. The voice inside our own heads can be an ally or an enemy; for a while now I have been discovering how to train my inner voice to be a better ally in my on-going project of self-healing. Here is an introduction to the process, from an article on my website:
“Self-Hypnosis – also known as Autogenic Training – has been around for a long time. I first came across it back in the Eighties, in a book called Superlearning. This was at right at the beginning of my interest in meditation, and practising the autogenic sequences from the book were the closest I came to achieving the deeper states of inner calm that are reportedly the most effective brain wave frequencies for healing chronic conditions.
Thus, when a bout of chronic fatigue left me with fibromyalgic pain that did not easily respond to the mindful movements that had helped me free myself of sciatica in the past, my investigations brought me full circle, and this time I made a connection I had somehow failed to make before. I remembered that Moshe Feldenkrais was also interested in self-hypnosis at a similar age, except that – being the over-achiever he was – he translated a significant book on the subject into Hebrew, and boldly added his own thoughts in a 26 page commentary.
The book was The Practice Of Autosuggestion by the Method of Émile Coué (1929), and Moshe’s original contribution has recently been published as Thinking and Doing, A monograph by Moshe Feldenkrais. He retained his enthusiasm for these concepts throughout his life, attempting to republish his translation in 1977, and using the techniques he still valued to speed his recovery after his stroke.
This workshop will be ideal for anyone seeking to improve their own health and wellbeing, and the health and wellbeing of others.