Recently I have noticed a much-needed return to the movement and body awareness methods of past generations: Feldenkrais, Alexander & other body awareness modalities, popular in the 60’s and before. In addition, there are the more recent phenomena of pilates popularity, and experts like Eric Franklin to focus on the gracefulness of movement over the rigors of ruthless body building and strenuous exercise.
It’s timely, in fact, because speech work benefits greatly from these modalities. We often think of speech as a separate task, but years of speech and accent have taught me that the two are inextricably linked! If we are tense and restrained in our movement, our speech is also tense and restrained.
How do we move from stressed-out robots to naturally moving, happy communicators?
#1: Awareness: This is always my go-to drug of choice. Drench yourself in awareness exercises with acceptance. You can’t change what you don’t know. You have to see yourself as others see you and notice your breath, notice how you communicate, how your voice sounds, how your body moves … without trying to change it!
#2: Warm Up and Daily Habits: All of us prefer to move and talk the way we do. It’s our habit. If we want to be stress free (and aren’t), then we must accept the need for tangible, daily change exercises. Warming up before we speak is always a good practice. Daily habit examination for how we can move more freely and incorporate movement exercises into our day is also of paramount importance.
#3: Vocalize, Vocalize, Vocalize: Although some people chant while doing yoga, the vast majority of us exercise silently. The key to unifying your presence, is to combine breath and voice with movement. If you are moving and speaking in isolation, you can’t do this. You are also much more likely to move and sound like a robot. Exercise while making sounds! It’s really that simple.
#4: Accept that it’s a New Way of Being: Just like diet and exercise, you can’t eat healthy only now and then and expect to have great health, weight and well-being. The same is true with posture, movement and voice. It must be the “new you” and the “continued you.”
#5: Be Kind and Gentle with Yourself: Self talk matters, and it will make you tense and rigid if you tell yourself you are “wrong, bad, stupid, mistaken, and lazy.” Instead, remind yourself to “take care of yourself, do the right thing, feel free and move with fluidity and confidence.” It makes all the difference!
Integrate the ease and grace of movement with your voice and verbal expression, and you’ll move from being a stressed-out robot to a confident, happy communicator!