Welcome to the Speak With Your Whole Self blog! In my weekly writing, I share tips and mindset tools that will help you communicate more fully and authentically. Every Thursday I share something that pertains either to:

  • Vocal health and anatomy (How Your Voice Works)
  • Performing or public speaking (Lessons in Presence)
  • Your everyday life (Voice Body LIFE)
  • Or on the really juicy days, something personal! (Elissa gets personal)

You can also join me live every Friday at 1pm EST on the facebook page to hear a deeper explanation of that week’s blog. After all, I’m a voice teacher so I love talking!

P.S. If you want these blogs delivered straight to your inbox every Thursday, plus information about classes and workshops that I only share via email, please sign up for Voice Body Connection updates here!

Fricatives

I’ve got a question for you…. do you know your fricatives? If you don’t, then I’d like to introduce you! Fricatives are consonants that are created with – you guessed it – friction! The common ones we use in English are f, v, th (both unvoiced and voiced), s, z, sh, and zh. Check out this week’s Articulation vid to l! earn about these sounds, how they work, and how to make them with more clarity. Plus you’ll get to channel being little teapot emitting steam, and a bee buzzing through the air!

Check out the Fricatives (Articulation) exercise here:

These are fun sounds right?! Let me know if you have any questions below.

xo,

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I’ve had a revelation here in Bali…

On my first Sunday night here in Bali, I went to a kirtan. For those of you who have never heard of it before, a kirtan is basically a Sanskrit sing-a-long. Perhaps the reason you’d be familiar with it is because you’ve seen Bhakti yogis sitting in orange robes in a park singing “Hare Krishna, Hare Krisha, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare…

“Hare Krishna” is certainly one refrain that you can sing during kirtan, but the possibilities for melodies and mantras are basically endless. At the kirtan here at Yoga Barn in Ubud we sang all sorts of songs dedicated to different deities. The evening was led by a teacher and musician named Punnu, who I perceived immediately to be a true master of sound, yoga, and energy. Punnu’s presence is magnetic and powerful, as you can see just by looking at him:

Punnu and I after the kirtan that night

 

So there I was, singing kirtan with Punnu and about one hundred other yogis. And on probably the second song in, I had a HUGE revelation:

I want to lead a kirtan back in New York City!

I was lucky to have my journal sitting next to me when I got this overwhelming download, and within minutes I had written two full pages of all the reasons this adds up and makes so. much. sense. Some of the “duh” signs include: I have a stash of instruments already, my good friend in New York just bought a harmonium for us to practice chanting with (!), my dad always wanted me to be a cantor (😝 ), and I’ve been studying Sanskrit more deeply lately. But here are the really big reasons this is such a powerful aha moment for me:

First, it gives me an opportunity to connect with all of you in a new way (I immediately envisioned that we’ll live-stream this kirtan so that those of you not in New York City who would like to join can also participate). Right now when I work with you in a private session or an online class, we focus on the ways that you use your voice outside the session or class (whether it’s singing, public speaking, voice-over, teaching yoga, etc). That’s very important, of course. However if we also have a shared practice that we can come together and do each week, it will give us a wonderful opportunity to implement the techniques and exercises we’re working on together. Plus, it’s a beautiful way to bring all of us closer in community.

Second, doing this gives me a chance to sing again. In order to explain why this is so important, I’m gonna share something really personal with you:

A big part of my own vocal expression got shut down when I lost my voice ten years ago, and even though I’ve done a ton of work on myself and my voice, it’s still not fully revived.

Yes I sang a cabaret show for my 30th birthday two years ago (and I’m so proud of that!), but I haven’t truly had a regular vocal practice that I do simply for the fun and joy of it in years, and it is so important that I reclaim that. Because really, who am I to help you fall in love with your voice, if I’m not doing the same to the very fullest?

WHEW. Feels good to be honest about that with you, and with myself. 

So – when I get back to NYC in September we’re making this happen. I don’t know tons of Sanskrit songs yet, and I’m envisioning that I’m going to be a little bit like Bambi standing up on my legs for the first time, but I think the best way to learn is to just dive in. And we’ll do this kirtan thing Voice Body Connection/ Elissa-style. If you’ve done kirtans before, this will be unique and slightly different: I’m thinking we’ll do a warm up, tell some stories, sing some songs, practice an exercise or two, and do a cool down each time.

By the way, if you’re reading this right now thinking “I’m secretly super compelled by this, but I’m not a singer and I’m worried I’m going to sound terrible and make my cat cover her ears” or something like that, then I encourage you all the more to join in. Making sound is our birthright, and harmonizing our vibrations with the world around us is one of the most healing things we can do for ourselves and the whole collective. I’m reading lots of books, and tons of smart people say that’s true… in fact the Bhagavad Gita, one of the most sacred texts of yoga, states that chanting is the path to liberation in the era we’re now living in. How phenomenally amazing it that?! By opening up our individual throat chakras we are purifying ourselves and upleveling everyone around us (the Sanskrit word for the 5th throat chakra is vishuddha, which means “purity.”)

You can look forward to hearing more about how I’m going to unroll this in the fall as I develop a plan. In the meantime, I think it’s safe to say this trip is definitely turning out to be tax deductible 😂 !!

Also: if you’re excited by this upcoming new offering, will you tell me? I’d love to have a gauge on the interest in this!

Sending big love from Bali in your direction,

Elissa

 

P.S. I didn’t even mention that I actually got up on stage with Punnu that night and played the cajon for a few songs! His drummer hadn’t shown up and he asked for a volunteer. And well, you know I’m not the shyest person…

I wish I could share evidence with you, but I don’t think anyone got a photo. However as a close second, here’s a picture I have of singing until the wee hours of the morning a few days later with a bunch of locals at a bar here (I felt on fire this night, which is perhaps apparent from how blurry this picture is   )

Singing with the locals at a bar called Lovin’

 

And a couple other recent Bali shots:

Feeling wild after Esctatic Dance!! 💃 👅

 

The “Pyramids of Chi” where I attended a sound bath on the full moon (amazing!) 🌝

…As you can tell, I like it here. I have a feeling I’ll be coming back!

Oral Resonance

It’s time for another Resonance exercise! I’m excited for today’s because it goes hand in hand with the two we’ve done so far in the How To Warm Up series. Today we’re covering Oral Resonance – the sound that gives your voice a rich, deep quality. This one is great for cultivating your radio announcer voice. So press play and check it out – it’s funny and silly as usual 😜  (also… if you haven’t watched the other two Resonance vids yet – scroll back in the playlist to check out Mask and Loft Resonance too!)

Check out the Oral Resonance (Resonance) exercise here:

Did that work for you? Can you feel the difference between this and Mask/Loft resonance? Let me know in the comments below!

xo,

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Why I came to Bali…

{Warning: this post is gonna have lots of pictures and emojis 📷  😜 }

It all starts last summer when I went to Burning Man for the first time. For those of you who haven’t gone or heard of Burning Man, it’s a huge week-long festival in the Nevada Desert that centers around radical self-reliance, expression, and love. It’s a place where you can walk up a stranger, hug them, and within seconds be in deep conversation.

Obviously, I made a lot of friends at Burning Man last summer. But the closest friend I made was Andi, a naturopath and yoga teacher who at the time was living in Bali.

Me and Andi at Burning Man, September 2016

Now Andi didn’t invite me to Bali. In fact, she moved away four months later. What she did do was connect me with her friend Kevin, also a Bali-based yoga teacher. Kevin was coming to New York City over Christmas, and Andi sent me to his class. And it was after Kevin’s yoga class in NYC this past December that I heard myself saying: “I’m going to come visit you in Bali.”

Kevin and I in NYC, December 2016

That sentence, uttered aloud, was immediately followed by this barrage of thoughts: “WHAT did you just say?! You can’t go to BALI!! You can’t afford to, and besides you couldn’t take that time off from teaching even if you wanted to!”

Followed by: “Right. What a silly idea!”

Fast forward two months, and I was starting to feel that I could really use a break. When I checked my mental calendar, I realized that between my work at New York Film Academy and other acting schools, my private clients, and my online classes, I really hadn’t taken longer than a week’s break from teaching in FOUR YEARS. Count em: 4️⃣ .

There’s this saying that you can’t draw from an empty well, and metaphorically speaking, when I looked down I saw that the water was getting kinda low. So I thought to myself, “I guess I better take a break. Now if I were going to do that, what would I even do??”

💡

BALI.

So here I am.

Now, I purposefully didn’t do a lot of research before I came. In the past when I’ve taken big trips like this, I’ve always wished I’d planned less. So I decided I’d do that. But I did spend time thinking about what I wanted to get out of my sabbatical in Bali, and I came up with an answer very quickly…

As you know, my business is called Voice Body Connection. I teach about voice, the body, and how they’re connected. My years of study in voice come from a theatre, singing, and speech science perspective primarily. My studies in movement are mostly yoga and other somatic practices (including Body-Mind Centering, which I’m headed to study in Montréal in August… more on that in a future episode 😉 ). Over the last few years I’ve also been diving deeply into Vedic knowledge through my meditation and Ayurveda practices (Ayurveda is the Indian science of health, and it’s helped me through my experiences with acid reflux and my ongoing autoimmune issues with psoriasis which you can learn about here).

So I’ve spent a lot of time studying the ancient Indian stuff when it comes to philosophy, breath, movement, meditation, and food. But what I haven’t done as much is delve into what the rishis have to say about SOUND. And I teach VOICE you guys!! I sense a gap here.

Now I get it, I could have gone to India. And I totally will, and you’ll get to see those pictures too. But I chose Bali this summer because there’s a crazy amazing community of yogis in the center of this little Hindu island (which, for the record, is in the middle of the largest Muslim country in the world – Indonesia). Also, according to a lot of people who have traveled to both places, Bali is an easier place to rest and have a sabbatical. I’ll do India when I’m feeling a little more hearty 💪 

SO,

My biggest goal this month is to have no goals and be moved where I’m led.

But, my other goals – we’ll call them desires – are to read a lot, move my body every day, sing and chant every day, and make and eat wonderful food.

Here’s what my life is looking like these days:

If I had to share a picture that shows what Bali looks like, this would be it. At the rice fields in Jatiluwih, north of Ubud.

 

Walking through the rice paddies

 

 

In the courtyard of my first home here, Banana Homestay. With my buddy Ganesh 🐘

 

Sunrise from my patio on my first morning ☀️

Dragonfruit coconut kefir from Sayuri Healing Foods. It was weird but I have a feeling I’m gonna crave it tomorrow…

 

Kissing a frog at the Penadahan Hot Springs 😘 🐸

 

 

My new friend Clara and I in front of the ‘step and repeat’ at the Jatiluwih rice paddies (film premiere status 😂 🎬 )

 

My stack of books (that’s a kindle at the top – finally invested so I wouldn’t bring three times as many as this!)

 

Follow me on instagram @voicebodyelissa for updates and videos!

I’m really excited to report back and share more about my discoveries and thoughts. And of course to bring what I learn into my teaching in the fall.

If you’re excited that I’m moving in this direction, will you tell me? I would LOVE to know! Comment below this blog or send me an email (elissa@voicebodyconnection.com) 😊

I’ll add that I am still doing some work this summer, but it’s on the bigger picture of my offerings. As they say, sometimes you gotta take a break from working in your biz, so you can work on your biz! So standby, because in a few weeks I’ll have a survey for you about what you’d like see from me in the future. Best to make this a conversation I think!

Thanks for joining me on this journey, and looking forward to connecting soon 💗 ✨

xo,

Elissa

 

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Straw Phonation

Hey there crew! Have you ever heard of straw phonation? It’s using a straw to practice making sound with optimal airflow and pressure. The concept was popularized by renowned voice doctor Ingo Titze in this popular youtube video 7 years ago, and has been taken on board by singers, voice teachers, and professional voice users alike. Straws are an incredibly valuable tool for calibrating your effort to create Sound at the vocal folds – so pick one up and try this out!!

Check out the Straw Phonation (Sound) exercise here:

Fun? Exciting? Got tips to add if you’ve tried this before? Tell me in the comments below!

xo,

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Kapalabhati Pranayama

Calling all yogis and yoginis! Today’s How To Warm Up video is an awesome breathing exercise from yoga – a pranayama – called Kapalabhati (pronounced kuh-pall-uh-BAH-tee). Kapalabhati means “skull shining breath.” The idea is that when you practice this breathing technique, your skull winds up feeling all shiny and tingly from the energy you’re sending upwards. Sounds kinda nice, right? The best part about this pranayama is that it is another way to practice supporting from the low belly and sending the breath (and therefore vocal) energy up and out. So check this out because if your body can master kapalabhati, you can master breath support!

Check out the Kapalabhati (Breath) exercise here:

Alright – hop to it yogi breathers!

xo,

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The Swinging Exercises

It’s time to warm up your Body! And today we’re going to be doing something more vigorous: exercises that use the momentum of swinging. These three simple exercises will warm up your spine, get your blood flowing, and get your breath moving. Best of all, they’ll only take you 2 minutes!. These are two of the best minutes you can add to your day, so check it out:

Check out the Swinging (Body) exercise here:

So fun right?!?
Okay and here’s the best part. As you can see in this video, at the end I blurted out that I wanted you to make me a gif. Well there are no mistakes, so I held a contest for my mailing list for best GIF. The rules of the contest are below if you’re curious, and CONGRATULATIONS to the winner, David, and runner up Melanie!

David’s GIF:

Melanie’s GIF:

Rules of the contest:

  1. Make a video of yourself doing one of these swinging exercises (on your phone is fine!)
  2. Upload that video to gifs.com to create a gif.
  3. Caption it something creative (don’t hurt your brain… mine are not always actually clever, let’s be honest 😝 )
  4. Email it to me (elissa@voicebodyconnection.com) by Monday June 12th at midnight EST
  5. I’ll share the winner next week in my newsletter and here on the website!! (And maybe the runners up too, so keep in mind this could go public!)
  6. The prize? Enrollment in my How Your Voice Works online course!

Great work everyone!!!

xo,

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Sound That Feels True To You

Today’s exercise is both really simple and also totally challenging. It’s called “Sound That Feels True To You” and it’s a way to help connect your impulses to the sound that’s actually coming out of you. You know that feeling when something comes out of your mouth and it feels totally fake? And your inner monologue is like: “That was b***s***!” This exercise will help you tap into making the sound that is truly authentic, which is of course the jumping off point for saying words and phrases authentically too. Check it out and start sighing out some sound that feels true to you!

Check out the Sound That Feels True To You (Impulse) exercise here:

Do you agree – both simple and hard at the same time? But worth getting good at!

xo,

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Tongue Twisters with Nasals

Last week in our Articulation exercise we practiced the nasal sounds M, N, and NG. Today, we’re going to put it all together into a few fun and silly tongue twisters that will get your soft palate and other articulators working in tip top shape!

Check out the Tongue Twisters with Nasals exercise here:

Are these hard for you? Easy? Let me know!

xo,

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Nasals Articulation Exercise

Nasal sounds may not be the most obvious articulation issue, but if you can’t articulate nasals, you can’t articulate clearly. Why? Nasals require a lot of dexterity of the lips, tongue, and soft palate.

The three main nasal sounds we use in English are M, N, and NG. Check out today’s How To Warm Up Articulation video to learn how to make these nasal sounds clearly and easily!

Check out the Nasals Exercise (Articulation) here:

Are these hard for you? Easy? Let me know!

xo,

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