Maybe you’ve never considered it, but lately I have started my days with stretching and warming up my voice. Actually I was doing the exercise for other unrelated projects in my life, but I immediately discovered positive benefits in my job as a teacher. If you don’t already, I’d recommend:
1) Starting your day with stretching
Stretching is all around good. It releases endorphins, which help your body and mind relax. Plus it gets you ready for all kinds of jerky movements.
Stretch your arms, legs, back and neck muscles. And for all those computer fiends out there — make sure to stretch your fingers and wrists as well!
To go further, you can massage your neck and jaw muscles and give your hands a wrists a good go-over, too.
2) Warming up your vocal chords
Singers do it, so why not teachers, too? After all, we are using our voice constantly throughout the day. Speaking with a warmed up voice not only feels incredible, but it also makes the act of speaking less stressful on the body.
How to do it? Well, here are some common exercise techniques that everyone can do:
- Humming — as soon as I wake up in the morning I start to hum. Slowly at first, with perhaps just a, “Hmmm…” (like we do when we’re thinking) or an “Uh-huh” (like we do when we agree with something). Gradually I start to hum little tunes, but I find that I can always go back to the basics and just hum little sounds. The trick is to include some high and low notes, but to always keep it relaxed and smooth. Like stretching any muscle, the point is warming up, not hurting yourself. More and more I find myself repeating this exercise throughout my day. You can hum with and open or closed mouth. Just switch it up and get in tune with your vocal chords slowly and steadily.
- Drinking and gargling water — your vocal chords need water to work properly, but most people don’t get enough of it. Speaking on a dry throat not only hurts, but it does more damage to your vocal chords. Stay energetic and stay hydrated with a bunch of water!
- Yawning — Scientists still don’t quite understand why we do it, but that doesn’t concern us. Yawns are stretches for the neck muscles and vocal chords. Yawn with full yawning sounds (“Ahhhhhhhhhh…waawawawa…”) for maximum effectiveness.
- Eating healthy — of course the foods we eat have an effect on our weight and energy levels, but they also effect our mood and our vocal chords. I’ve noticed that sweet drinks and coffee, for example, tend to dry out my throat. I still sometimes drink them, but if I do, I try to make sure to chase them with lots of water to re-hydrate my vocal chords.