YOUR AUTHENTIC YOGA TEACHER VOICE
In order to know what this means, we first need to explore the “inauthentic voice”. Have you ever been in a class where the teacher doesn’t talk the way they normally talk when they’re not in the yoga room? They talk unnaturally slow, or enunciate each and every syllable of every single word. They bellow just a wee bit too loud so their voice over resonates in the practice room. Or they impose a sing song quality to their speech as though they’re trying to put you under hypnosis. They repeat everything twice and thrice, unnecessarily. There’s a compulsion to fill every moment of the class with their voice. They are not speaking to you, they are speaking over you. They are playing the part of Maria from the Sound of Music (ok, no, that’s just joke). But this kind of contrived voice becomes habitual for some teachers and is hard to curb the habit. They automatically go into that “mode” whenever they teach. That, in a nutshell, is the inauthentic voice. I would estimate about 30% of the teachers I’ve taken classes with do not use their authentic voice, maybe because they haven’t found it yet.
Now, what exactly is an AUTHENTIC voice?
The authentic voice sounds as though you are speaking directly to one person, a person you like and have a connection with, then you scale it up a few decibels to suit the size and layout of the teaching space. If you’re unsure as to whether you are loud enough then you can always check with the participants, i.e. “can everyone hear me ok?” Part of the authentic voice is about talking to your class participants with respect. Repeating all the instructions twice or three times with every posture is patronizing. People are smarter than that, most people get it the first time. With multi tiered instructions cue them once, then watch to see the results. The reality is if a teacher cues a posture and there is confusion or many participants don’t get it right, it is because the teacher has not cued the posture correctly. The best way to correct is to start the posture over with the correct instructions. It takes complete confidence and authenticity to do that but it is real and it’s better than letting people twist the wrong way and risk injury. Oh yes, and most importantly, the authentic voice knows it’s ok to be silent. Let your words have a chance to sink in and reverberate inwardly with your participants. There is no necessity to fill every moment of every class with chatter and repetition.
Breaking the contrived voice habit
Yes, once you get used to teaching in a “yoga teacher voice” it becomes a habit. But really, does it matter? Oh, I feel an anecdote coming on. A short time ago I took my son to a class and like most 20 year olds he’s a unfussy sort and never usually comments about the teaching. After this one particular class I asked him how he liked it and he said he felt that class was “kind of slow”. He reflected some more and added, “the teacher talked way too slow, and repeated everything over and over.” My son has attended maybe 30 yoga classes in his life and already he’s caught on to the inauthentic voice (although he didn’t describe it that way). So, yes, I think it matters because in this instance my son will likely will not want to go to that class again if he is bored by the pace. And the pace is controlled by the teachers speech.
Returning to an authentic voice
Please understand that there is no “ideal” yoga teacher voice. You do not need to emulate, imitate, or sound like anyone else. Nor, do you need to sound perfect. Don’t use words or language you aren’t comfortable with. Be yourself, be real, be a guide and teacher, not a lord or a showboat. One physiological tip that may be helpful is to speak from the heart centre. Find the voice that comes from deeper down than your throat. But again, don’t overdo it and bring on Marlon Brando. Bonus points for anyone out there who knows where this pic is from…
Well, that’s my two cents worth about the authentic yoga teacher voice. To read more teacher tips click on → Yoga Teacher Safety Cues ←.
Comments are welcome. Please leave them in the box below. Cheers, Connie.