Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Yoga for Singers: Freeing Your Voice and Spirit through Yoga

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Yoga for Singers: Freeing Your Voice and Spirit through Yoga

Article excerpt

Linda Lister, Yoga for Singers: Freeing Your Voice and Spirit Through Yoga. Published by lulu.com, 2011, 164 pp. Print version, $25.00; e-book $15.99; e-book PDF format, $12.99. www.yogaforsingers.com

Yoga is part of mainstream fitness trends, as evidenced by classes routinely offered in health clubs and community centers. Many singers use yoga as a way to discover optimum body alignment, breathing, and mental focus. Linda Lister, in Yoga for Singers, presents an introduction to the discipline, as well as an explanation of its usefulness for singers.

There are six branches of yoga, but the book is devoted to the one most helpful to singers: hatha yoga, or physical yoga. Within hatha yoga, there are many branches, but Lister focuses upon the iyengar and kundalini branches. Iyengar centers on the alignment of the body, while kundalini is founded on harnessing the energy of the spine. This energy is both physical and spiritual. An important component of yoga that is also essential to singing is pranayama, which translates as "life control" or "breath control." The chapter devoted to this topic contains a number of different breathing techniques. Lister advises to avoid kumbhaka, a particular practice of holding the breath between inhalation and exhalation, because it is contrary to breathing for singers.

A large section of the book consists of the asanas, or poses. Even those readers with only a nodding acquaintance with yoga will recognize some of the positions. Lister groups the postures into categories, including those that will encourage lengthening of the spine, an opening of the ribs, and those especially useful for singers. A photograph of each asana complements the description.

Meditation and chanting are two components of yoga. The former-which Lister defines as thinking deeply, focusing, or relaxing-may involve mantras (self-affirming words or phrases) and mudras (symbolic hand gestures that can be used to direct and deepen meditation). …

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