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Live from Bodhi and Ride

Below is a brief live transcript from a workshop that took place in 2015 at premier Yoga Studio, Bodhi and Ride, in Australia

Tran​script,  2016, from Bodhi & Ride:

I have taught voice and phonetics to actors and instructors before but never to a specific group, that being Yoga Instructors. So this is as new for me as it may prove for you. So let us explore together. I must make this adamant that I don’t want you to simply nod your heads to the man speaking and go along quietly like a bunch of lemmings. Let us be like philosophers and explore the questions together. You must constantly recall to yourself, look inside yourself, not merely go along with it. For this is what this workshop is all about, introspection; you do it every day in Yoga, so make this dialogue no different. Enquire within what you think makes the fingerprint of your voice and then perhaps we can reach a higher level together.

My experience in voice comes from my time working within the theatre; firstly, as a humble production manager and witnessing rehearsals from afar, to producing and directing of my own. I found I had an affinity to voice because the technicalities of it are closely related to exercises and drills found in Mixed Martial Arts. I then began experimenting by mixing the two in my own training and discovered a power I had not felt since I was first a young boy experimenting with sounds that I was discovering for the first time. Musashi said ‘Know One Thing, Know Ten Thousand’. What he meant is that all things in this world are interrelated, and if one philosophy applies to one thing it can also be applied to its opposite for that is also true. All arts are interrelated, and we know this because you can see the exercises in Yoga being beneficial to a footballer, or even an accountant, and vice versa, it has to work both ways you see.

I discovered I had an intuitive ability to help actors discover the natural voice, perhaps because I knew the feeling of losing my own voice in a spate of teenage depression and subsequently rekindling it again like a second birth found in some cultures. And so the voice excites me for the powers it can unleash upon the individual and upon the world.

The voice for me doesn’t just concern sounds but the beauty in the written word and the construction of sentences that can make a human weep just by its delicate pattern. I know this because a written letter has the power to go beyond borders, beyond oceans, beyond prison walls. The written word and the power of voice were the tools that helped my friend David McCallum III earn his freedom by exoneration. The miraculous nature of this event was by the power of communication and love. Every month I sent him a letter, it may have only been a small thing, but it has given birth to a love and friendship that has endured and changed many people’s lives not least my own.

Don’t doubt the power of even the slightest word as they can have immense effects upon the pathway of your life, and not just your own as we will discover in due course. Cherish words and get inspired by using them to teach a class, find ways to invigorate people just by using your voice, that is what my aim is for this workshop.

Why I chose to do a workshop specifically for yoga teachers?

I chose to do this workshop because of my involvement in the Melbourne yoga community and many friends who have asked me to design one. I have instructors who have had vocal surgery on their larynx because of not having the understanding of the vocal process and in time, the effects of pushing, frying and devoicing, have severed their ability to speak. I did not want the same to happen to an increasing number of people who are now teachers, and more often than not do more speaking than most professional speakers. 

Like any practitioner of philosophy, we appreciate those who live by a discipline, and so I have great respect for those who carry on the Vedic traditions and their desire to heal the world by raising the individual from within.

I also know from living with Yoga Teachers and loving one, what a conflict a lot of you find yourselves in when your value as a yoga teacher might be placed upon the number of followers you have on Instagram, how well you fit into Lulu-Lemon clothing, by having unblemished skin that shows a “perfect” lifestyle, and all the rest of it. The conflict I have seen in many of you, and this a generalization, but like George Harrison, caught in between the spiritual and material world. What makes a great yoga teacher is never the material but the immaterial and that comes from the soul of the teacher, and what they are willing to sacrifice.

You are also a philosopher because you are dealing with a spiritual practice concerned with introspection and you are also a performer, an actor, because you are an image in the eye of the beholder, either of their aspirations, fears or needs; you are the mirror that reflects themselves, and the students do the same for you as an audience. And that is where the excitement comes from, it’s why you became a yoga teacher in the first place. Again, don’t just go nodding your head but inquire into this reason. “Why did I become a yoga teacher in the first place?” The reason I ask this is because it is intrinsically connected with the voice, it is a profession that deals entirely with the voice, and so that interests me why a person chooses such a path? Is there a need to be heard? Is there a need to be seen? What’s the motivation, what’s the need? When you can answer this question you will begin to understand why a lot of us lose our voices we were born with and conform to what someone else may want us to sound like and why we do things to reconnect with it.