Aristotle described the voice in spiritual terms,
Voice is a kind of soul characteristic of what has soul in it; nothing that is without soul utters voice.”
Heather Lyle has been a professional singer for thirty years and a yoga practitioner most of her life. When she completed her university studies in voice and began teaching, she realized that the process of transforming the voice was a yoga unto itself. The literal translation of yoga is union and vocal means having to do with the voice, therefore, vocal yoga means vocal union. The state of vocal union is the state that we all universally desire. Actors, singers and public speakers recognize the need for harmonious voices and often seek expertise in this area. Lyle believes that everyone can have a beautiful, resonant voice and has made it her personal quest to assist all in finding the voice that reflects his or her true nature.
Lyle began practicing yoga at age 14 years, influenced by her father, a sadhak at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, India and one of the pioneers of Auroville. Lyle began to experiment with yoga and pranayama techniques for singing in her teens and studied South Indian Classical singing and opera in college. Lyle performed throughout the San Francisco Bay area singing her synthesis of yoga chanting and folk music, accompanying herself on guitar and other instruments, in the 70’s. She was often a featured performer at yoga and spiritual symposiums and opened for Baba Ram Dass at the “Harmony Festival” in California in 1973.
In 1991 Lyle officially developed her patented Vocal Yoga Method voice work and was the first to use the term Vocal Yoga. Vocal Yoga is a union of East meets West; ancient Asian and Indian breathing and voice techniques, combined with the best of Western voice methodologies. Vocal Yoga has developed from Lyle’s thirty years of singing experience and a synthesis of techniques from Hatha and Kriya Yoga, Chi Gong, Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais, The Bel Canto School of Singing, British Classical Voice Training, Roy Hart Extended Voice Work, Fitzmaurice Voicework, bioenergetics, mulitcultural sounding, Sanskrit chanting, and gospel and jazz improvisation. Lyle has explored practically every voice work in existence and integrated the jewels of each art form to assist the student in finding their true, most beautiful voice.
Our sound is our essence, it is pure it is perfect, it is unique. As far back as 500 BC, the Greek philosopher Pythagoras was experimenting with sound as a healing tool. According to Pythagoras, “Each celestial body, in fact each and every atom produces a particular sound on account of its movement, its rhythm or vibration. All these sounds and vibrations form a universal harmony in which each element, while having its own function and character, contributes to the whole.” We are each an individual sound and at the same time a part of a universal harmony. Our sound is capable of great subtlety and power. Softly it can soothe and calm. Fully released, our sound fills our mouth, our throat and opens into our body, spreading to our extremities. Every capillary and organ in our body can be filled with sound. Sound is not restrained by tubes or tubules, it can vibrate into the core of our cells and float through our cell walls free of restriction.
By analyzing one’s vocal sound, vocal scientists discovered that a single sound is composed of what is called a fundamental and a series of overtones that are heard simultaneously with the fundamental. A person with a beautiful resonance or ring in their voice contains more overtones in their voice, and a person with a dull sounding voice contains less vocal overtones. By learning to use the natural resonators of the voice we can all complete our vocal spectrum and use our voices to their fullest potential.
Unfortunately, most of us have become disconnected from our voice and do not know its unlimited possibilities. But, all is not lost as we can relearn the connection to the voice and pure vocal behavior most of us had as small children. Through Vocal Yoga work we can discover and fall in love with our own authentic voice all over again. Our beautiful, resonant voice has only been sleeping, waiting to be gently nudged awake.
Check out the Vocal Yoga Exercises page for some Vocal Yoga exercises. I recently found on another site a description of Vocal Yoga saying that it was just yoga asanas with sound. Vocal Yoga is so much more than that, the exercise page will give you a taste of my work. Join my facebook page for more exercises.
You are such a treasure my dear teacher. Late the other nite, past 8:30pm, I was up to read for a big Casting Director and I was pretty beat from the days rehearsal and driving to Burbank. Before entering I did my “NYC fancy acting school back stretch,” thumbs locked, leaned back until everything started shaking. Went in and blew them away, got a high score on everything all 5’s! thank you!
– Javier Estrella
actor and musician