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An Examination into the Impact of Yoga and Movement on the Jaw and Tongue during Singing and Speaking

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Abstract and Figures

The aim of this study is to detect and emphasize the benefits yoga and movement can have on articulatory, masticatory muscles and sound production
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Michaela Bartoskova
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An Examination into the Impact of Yoga and Movement on the Jaw and Tongue during
Singing and Speaking
Contents Page
Introduction……………………………………………………………………… 2
Literature Review……………………………………………………………… 2
Research Methodology……………………………………………………. 4
Ethic…………………………………………………………………………………. 6
Insider Research……………………………………………………………… 7
Data Analysis………………………………………………………………….. 7
Research Findings…………………………………………………………. 9
Discussion……………………………………………………………………… 16
Validity and Limitation…………………………………………………. 16
Conclusion……………………………………………………………………. 17
References……………………………………………………………………. 18
List of Figures
Figure 1: Participants’ Perception of Muscle Tension………………………………………………….9
Figure 2: Comparing the differences between ‘before’ and ‘after’ the workshop in regard to jaw and
tongue tensions ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………10
Figure 3: Comparing the differences between ‘before’ and ‘after’ the workshop in regard to body
tensions……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….10
Figure 4: The impact of the bridge pose on jaw, tongue and voice…………………………….11
Figure 5: The impact of the child pose on jaw, tongue and voice……………………………….12
Figure 6: The impact of the cow/cat pose on jaw, tongue and voice………………………….12
Figure 7: The impact of the dolphin pose on jaw, tongue and voice…………………………..13
Figure 8: Participants’ involvement in the workshop…………………………………………………..14
Figure 9: Impact of the workshop on participants speaking and singing…………………….15
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INTRODUCTION
The purpose of this study is to find out whether yoga/movement impacts vocal production and jaw,
tongue, body tensions and, if so, how. This research will explicitly assess whether specific yoga poses
can help with releasing unwanted or habitual jaw and tongue tensions and examine the effect of this
release on singing and speaking. The aim of this study is to detect and emphasize the benefits yoga
and movement can have on articulatory, masticatory muscles and sound production. This study will
hopefully support the holistic idea that body, mind, soul (voice) are presented and are taken in
consideration during teaching and performing. Another aim of this study is to contribute to the
conversation where one recognises the important role of the body in vocal expression. It is relevant
to research this and similar topics, to make sure that the future is full of accurate findings.
This will be done, firstly, by examining previous literature and building the research workshop upon
its findings. Secondly, this study will state what research methodology will be used. This will be
followed by analysis of data which will be accompanied by considered ethics and risk assessment.
Lastly, by naming the recommendation and the impact this research had and could have on voice
pedagogy.
I am a Voice, Singing and Movement Coach who works with acting and singing students in schools
and other organizations, along with anyone who is interested in exploring their voice within my
private practice. I am passionate about exploring the connection between voice and body and the
role of movement in human vocalization. I have been leading Voice and Yoga classes for the past four
years and I know that it is problematic to find relevant research that contains the voice-body
connection in previous voice literature. I conducted this research because I wanted to explore the
exact impact physical movement has on jaw, tongue and voice itself. I specifically narrowed this
research study down so I could concentrate on one or two target elements that are essential and an
obvious part of vocal expression.
LITERATURE REVIEW
The body is the instrument for living (Carman, 2004, p.433). It is a channel for expressing and
experiencing thoughts, feelings, and intentions toward others (Dourish, 2013). After a while,
reactions to physical, emotional, or environmental stress are gathered and kept in the body as
muscle tension. ‘The physical body learns imbalance as a method of coping with stress and these
imbalances create blockages’ (Moliterno, 2008, p.46). These blockages affect the physical instrument
that is never separated from the body, the voice (Neely, 2016). Craig et al. (2015) say that ‘there is
growing recognition that voice production requires whole-body muscular engagement’ (p. 170).
Other authors mention how posture itself (for example, the position of spine, shoulders and hips)
influences the ability to speak and sing (Kooijman et al., 2005; Gilman, 2010). Speaking and singing
require complex coordination of muscles in the entire body which is accompanied by modification of
tongue position, larynx height, and mouth opening (Roy et al., 2009). For that reason, muscle tension
can cause imbalance in ‘respiration, phonation, and articulation/resonance’ and can generate an
environment for muscle tension dysphonia (Craig et al., 2015, p.170). Muscle movements are
triggered neurologically and because of that, the aim is to create an environment where muscles are
freely, ‘accurately and comfortably’ reacting to neural signals (LeFevre, 2011, p. 157).
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Muscle tension is an important physiological manifestation of anxiety (Hoehn-Saric & McLeod, 1993).
Willmann et al. (2011) noted that stressful situations usually come with anxiety and its physiological
symptoms, such as; fast heart and respiratory rate, rise of cortisol and an increase in muscle tension
as part of the flight and fight response (Cannon, 1929). Hoehn-Saric & McLeod (1993) continue to
explain that muscular patterns of tension as the most frequent physiological finding in anxious
patients. Nevertheless, people are mostly unaware of this fact until they start practising relaxation
exercises. It is important to say that increased muscle tension has an impact on the entire body, but
it can easily be accumulated in one specific group of muscles (Hoehn-Saric, 2007). Carman (2004)
agrees by saying that stress exhibits itself through chronic physical and/or mental tension.
Undeniably, ‘physical tension is often a symptom of mental tension’ when we find problematic or
impossible to relax (Carman, 2004, p. 441).
Several authors suggest that yoga has become a significant component of contemporary vocal
therapy in the past years (Carman, 2004; Kuhn, 2006; Moliterno, 2008). There are many reasons why
this has happened. Firstly, yoga brings attention toward the entire body (Lloyd et al., 2017) and
integrates all elements of the practitioner such as body, mind and emotions (Moliterno, 2008).
Secondly, yoga incorporates breathing techniques, relaxation, body alignment, strength, flexibility
and coordination exercises (Carman, 2004; Cowen at al., 2005; Fiel, 2011). Thirdly, yoga has many
health benefits such as improving cardiovascular, autoimmune, and immunocompromise conditions
(Smith et al., 2007; Da Silva et al., 2009; Cramer et al., 2013). Lastly, yoga quiets the mind so that it
can be untainted by physical or emotional distractions (Moliterno, 2008; Lloyd, 2017) and therefore
decreases stress, anxiety, pain, tension and restores balance. Smith et al (1996) highlight that the
body relaxes and releases tension after the mind gets quieter. Through yoga practise it is possible to
develop ‘coordination and control over mind and body, which leads to freedom and control over
voice’ (Lloyd et al., 2017, p.512). This means that combining sound with physical movement is what
helps to tide the connection between physical posture, breathing and voicing together (Carman,
2012). As well as, other authors mention that yoga practice leads to self-knowledge and self-care
which for example can assist when enhancing poor posture or movement before ache or bad habits
are established rather than ignoring the body’s signals. This tells us that yoga works as a prevention
tool against muscle tension (Mehling et al., 2011; Neely, 2016).
Even though accurate alignment and posture have been shown to affect voice production
(Lieberman, 2002; Van Houtte et al., 2011), this study will particularly focus on muscular patterns of
tension in two regions: the jaw and the tongue because these are the main articulators involved in
speaking and singing. To summarize the vocal process, the air from the lungs passes through the
larynx/vocal cords and goes through the vocal tract where multiple articulators are involved to help
produce sound. Specifically, the tongue, the jaw and the hard palate together, function as an
individual yet coordinated unit (Stone & Vatikiotis-Bateson, 1995). However, the primary articulator
of the vocal tract is the jaw. This is because it bears the tongue and the lower lip and, as a result, it is
involved in their activity during speaking and singing (Serrurier et al., 2012). Nevertheless, the tongue
mostly determines vowel definition because it occupies almost the entire vocal tract and therefore,
produces vast changes in the vocal tract (Miller, 2002). This strong connection between tongue and
jaw means that the tongue placement can in fact influence jaw activity and vice versa (Matsuo &
Palmer, 2010).
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The jaw consists of; a fixed part which is the upper jaw or maxilla and the movable part which is the
lower jaw or the mandible (Ndukwe & Anitha, 2016). Jaw motion is regulated by three pairs of
anatomically heterogeneous closing muscles, and at least two pairs of depressors (Miller, 1991;
Hannam & McMillan, 1994; Weijs, 1994). The most frequent jaw tensions are created by ‘jutting the
jaw forward and clenching the teeth’ (LeFevre, 2011, p. 160). Miller (1999) notes that the tongue is
the only muscle group in the whole body that is connected at one end to the floor of the mouth and
free-moving at the other. Austin (2016) mentions that the movement of the tongue directly affects
the resonance frequencies because the airspace changes as each letter requires a different shape
inside the mouth. It has an important role in swallowing and respiration as well (Kletzien et al.,
2013). The tongue is extremely flexible and is attached to the hyoid bone and therefore, tensions in
the tongue can be easily shifted to the larynx and affect vocal projection (Miller, 2002). In the same
way, jaw tension is generally caused by or linked to tensions in the tongue and neck (Miller, 1996)
because of their close connection through the intermingling of musculature, ligaments, and tissues
(LeFevre, 2011). LeFevre (2011) continues suggesting that it is the reason why the primal source of
tension can be so problematic to define. Any articulatory tension influences phonation, resonation,
and articulation (Gregg, 1997; LeFevre 2011). Miller (1999) recaps that tension and its protective
muscle reactions can be relocated to all parts of the body. Some studies revealed that the
connection between the jaw, the tongue and the velum is closely but not systematically linked
(Hiiemae & Palmer, 2001; Steele & Van Lieshout, 2008; Matsuo et al. 2005). Other studies discovered
that decoupled tongue displacement enhances more during slow speech than during clear and loud
speech, whereas jaw displacement enhances more during clear speech than during loud and slow
speech (Hertrich & Ackerman, 2000; Tasko & McClean, 2004; Mefferd, 2017).
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
The literature review helped me to find out what is already known about the role of the human body
in vocal training. I adopted two, conflicting at first sight, literature reviews. I implemented an
empirical literature review because most of the studies derived from an actual experience or
observation (Onwuegbuzie & Frels, 2016). As well as, I applied a theoretical framework because
these studies used ‘established, coherent explanation’ based on theories developed over time
(Lester, 2005, p.458). I applied a cross-disciplinary approach because most of the literature analyses
were credible but selected from medicine research. It was exciting to find a few great articles in the
Journal of Singing, but there is hardly any research that connects the benefits of physical movement
with jaw and tongue tensions’ release in voice literature. On the other hand, most of the studies are
recent which hopefully means that this topic is getting well-deserved attention and there will be
more research and changes carried out in the future with the help of this research study. A number
of themes have arisen during this literature review, such as: the harmful impact that muscle tension
has on vocal production; the positive effects of yoga on the body and, therefore, on the voice; and
the easy accumulation of muscular tension in one particular area in the body (in this case: in the jaw
and the tongue) and their close relationship. The emergent theme was the reliable evidence of the
close connection between the voice, the body and the physical movement that correlates with my
own findings during teaching.
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Even though my ontological and epistemological view is determinate, the literature review
influenced my research design and choosing appropriate research strategy and methods. My
ontological position was based on perceiving reality as subjective and always changing, while I aimed
to find and test true answers that work in practice (Mertens, 2005). That said, I do sometimes feel as
though there are multiple realities that depend on, and are shaped by, social cognition (Mertens,
2008). My epistemological position was based on anti-realism because I believe that the truth should
not be constrained by any authority, but it should come from within (Kyriacou & McKenna, 2018).
That is why I consider a direct communication and collaboration between the researcher and ‘the
people of the community’ (Mertens, 2008, p. 56) to be a key element. At the beginning I thought
that my ‘belief system’ (Kuhn, 1996, p.20) and my research approach is grounded in a pragmatic
paradigm mostly because I kept in mind the pragmatic question, ‘what difference would it make to
act one way rather than another?’ (Morgan, 2014, p.43). Then, Denzin & Lincoln (2017) helped me to
recognise that pragmatic and transformative paradigms cannot be totally separated. That was when I
realised that my paradigm shifted. I discovered that using transformative paradigm helps to see each
step ‘as an opportunity to challenge the status quo’ mainly due to the lack of studies in voice
literature (Mertens, 2005, p.58). The more I looked into this paradigm, the more I noticed how
transformative research becomes ‘a united voice for reform and change’ in our society (Creswell,
2014, p.10) because of the need to address groups’ and individual’s inequities (Mertens & Wilson,
2012). I also like that this paradigm strives to ‘link the results to action’ (Mertens, 1999, p. 4). The
application of transformative paradigm often comes together with the use of a mixed-method study.
This resonated with this study because it ‘supports the credibility of research evidence from multiple
perspectives’ (Mertens & Hesse-Biber, 2013, p. 80). To prevent any biases from happening, I decided
to combine and use the most beneficial aspects of both approaches while applying multiple sources
of primary data collection during the research workshop. Both qualitative and quantitative
approaches were equally valuable because they offered an in-depth analysis of integration and
resulted in ‘increased clarity of understanding of the complexity of the inclusion programs under
study’ (Mertens, 2005, p.28).
I have used triangulation to assure the validity of this research. I implemented a pre-survey and post-
survey, an observation checklist and a peer review of audio recordings to help me capture all
different perspectives of this research project and to help cross check the final findings. To make
sure the surveys data was valid, I used observation checklists to assure that each participant was
involved in the work, that they followed the instructions and engaged in the exercises (Robson,
2002). As O’Leary (2010) mentions, survey and observation both allow the researcher to be in
charge, which on one side creates a tailor-made data collection but on the other side it creates a
potential for biases. This is the reason I decided to ensure thoroughness in data collection by inviting
another person to contribute during the peer review of the audio recordings that were taped at the
beginning and the end of the workshop. The qualified voice and singing coach brought an additional
and fresh view whilst assessing the quality of the research, remained impartial with an objective
view and critically examined the collected audio data by tracking changes in participants’ vocal
quality and writing the findings and opinions in the survey (Nicholson et al., 1987).
Furthermore, I really wanted to understand participants’ experiences therefore, phenomenology was
the methodological influence that I drew upon (Moustakas, 1994). This influence was chosen
because the intention of the study was to ‘understand the meaning of an experience from the
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perspective of persons who have had the experience’ (Phillips & Cohen, 2011, p. 240). I believed that
through phenomenological studies I could gain ‘in-depth insight’ into people’s experiences (Waller &
Pattison, 2013, p. 369). The criticism comes with researchers’ discussion. It is mentioned that this
influence is so focused on subjective experience that it could miss the objective environment and
circumstances (Palay, 2016). I agree with this statement, therefore the need for observation checklist
and a peer review of audio recordings were taken in account.
ETHICS
To eliminate any risks, this research paid close attention to any negative effects that can arise and
impact participants and myself (the researcher) by preparing an ethical framework (Patton, 2002). If
ethical considerations arose, it was important to establish steps to take to address any potential
harms or ‘ethical dilemmas’ (Mertens & Ginsberg, 2009, p.295). It was found that there was a high
risk of physical harm because of the nature of the workshop. These risks were eliminated at the
beginning when participants mentioned any previous injuries. They did this by filling in a form so I
could be better prepared and adjust the workshop’s blueprint to their health preferences. I also
planned the workshop’s structure. The first part of the workshop was dedicated to jaw and tongue
exercises only. In this case no risks were anticipated because participants were led through clear and
precise instructions, knowing that they should immediately stop if any unpleasant feeling arose. The
second part of the workshop was focused on beginners’ yoga poses. The poses were taken from
restorative and yin yoga. Restorative yoga is all about slowing down and opening the body through
passive stretching. To support this statement, participants were reminded again that each pose is
voluntary and should be practised with a care. As well as, no risks such as personal safety or
emotional distress were anticipated. With that said, participants were informed about the possibility
of stimulating the gag reflex. It was said that this is a natural response and, again, they were advised
to stop if the unpleasant feeling increases.
Even though ethical codes are constantly changing in accordance with society’s needs (Kumar, 2011)
there were some essential steps taken to assure ethical research. Participants’ survey responses,
observation checklists and audio recordings were firstly stored in the paper folder, then later
scanned and saved on my personal computer in a password protected folder. Having the luxury of
both paper and digital data decreased the chance of losing any. All participant-related email
correspondence was directed to a special email folder. Recordings were deleted on my iPhone and
transferred to my personal computer. All this was done to respect participants’ privacy and ensure
full confidentiality. All data was anonymous, and each participant was referred to as Subject A, B, C
etc. No data was shared, however, all audio recordings were emailed to a qualified voice and singing
coach for a peer review. All data was destroyed after the analyses were completed.
The participants were introduced to the research procedures in advance and knew what to expect.
This was done via the Google form and workshop description on the website and social media. At the
beginning of the workshop all participants signed a consent form that gave me a permission to carry
out the research. It is vital to mention that this research was not funded or linked to any institution
in any way. There were no risks anticipated regarding my role as a researcher. I carried out this
workshop in a place I am familiar with and all individuals arrived separately but within a specific time
window. I reminded myself of the words of Mertens & Ginsberg (2009) who stated that researchers
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need to be tolerant, but it does not mean that he or she should agree with participants’ value
system. That said, the researcher must balance ’the urge to obtain valid and reliable data without
threatening participants’ values and rights (Cohen at al., 2007). It was mentioned to all participants
that the final research report will be available to them upon request and to the public.
INSIDER RESEARCH
During the whole research project, I carried in the back of my mind that this study would be
completed in my own work practice with topics I am passionate about and interested in which might
create a potential for bias. Having said that, I have never examined how and whether yoga or
movement affect the jaw and the tongue so any past experiences or lack of alertness due to
familiarity were not in my way (Smyth & Holian, 2008). Due to my past experiences the research was
positively influenced by easily finding a target audience and an anatomical understanding. To
eliminate any bias, a peer review was initiated which provided clarification without diminishing the
significance of my experiences (Merton, 1972).
DATA ANALYSIS
The data was collected during a 2-hour research-based workshop on Sunday, 11th August 2019.
There were 11 participants registered for the workshop and 8 people attended. This is still an
adequate number because the research workshop was planned for minimum of 3 and maximum of
11 people. Having said that the actual number of people who were interested in this workshop was
78. This highlighted the necessity and significance of a study of this nature and at this time. Anyone
who intended to join was directed to fill in a form. This form asked: their name, email address,
availability on that day, any previous injuries they had, and explained they needed to prepare and
memorise two lines of any song, monologue and poem, for example.
The workshop consisted of:
- Pre and Post workshop participants’ surveys;
- Pre and Post workshop audio recordings that were used to eliminate bias. It worked as a peer
review source and was assessed by a voice specialist via survey;
- Observation checklists.
DESCRIPTION OF THE WORKSHOP
The workshop consisted of:
- a simple anatomical description of the jaw and the tongue;
- warm-up exercises that included a self-massage, a short trigger point therapy, stretches and
purposeful vocal exercises;
- a quick, yet intentional relaxation;
- and 4 yoga poses that were introduced in this order: the bridge pose, the cow/cat pose, the child
pose and the dolphin pose.
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Poses and rationale
Bridge pose
Practising the Bridge pose opens the shoulders and chest, stretches the back of the neck, extends the
thoracic spine, lengthens the hip flexors, calms the brain and eases anxiety and stress (Rizopoulos,
2017). In regards to the jaw and the tongue, it is easier for the body to let go, relax and give into the
gravity but this also pulls the tongue back which influences speaking and singing.
Cow/Cat pose
When practising Cow/Cat pose stretches, the torso and neck massages the spine and abdominal
organs, opens the lower part of the rib cage, helps to develop postural awareness, brings a relief
from stress and calms the mind (Pizer, 2019). In regards to the jaw and the tongue, it is very easy to
loosen up and relax the face when gravity is taking care of the body in this pose.
Child pose
Practising Child pose stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles. This resting pose restores balance in the
body, relieves stress, fatigue, back and neck pain, relaxes the front of the body and opens the back of
the torso (Watts, 2019). With regards to the jaw and the tongue, everyone’s face is hidden away
which for some creates a space of safety which might lead to tension release.
Dolphin pose
Practising Dolphin pose helps relieve stress, stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves and arches,
strengthens the arms and leg, relieves headache, fatigue and back pain (Rizopoulos, 2017). In regards
to the jaw and the tongue, it brings completely new angle and connection to the gravity as the head
is upside down which for some creates tension in the face because the blood rushes into the head.
Even though these poses were introduced in a sequence it was important that each participant
independently connected with individual poses and explored the effects the pose can have on jaw
and tongue tensions and on the voice. Firstly, participants were guided to explore each pose whilst
noting their breathing patterns. Secondly, they were instructed to accompany each pose with
specific jaw and tongue exercises taken mostly from the warm-up. Thirdly, they were directed to use
certain vocal warm-ups when they were in the pose. Fourthly, they were guided to use their chosen
text or song while in the pose. Lastly, they were given a free play to explore spontaneous sound and
movements free from any instructions. After going through the sequence a couple of times, always
adding an extra layer mentioned in the few previous sentences, the whole workshop ended on
participants’ feet.
PARTICIPANTS
8 unrelated individuals that have never met before, 6 women and 2 men in good health within the
age range of 18 and 55, were present during this workshop. There were 5 participants who brought
either a monologue, poem or worked with song lyrics and there were 3 participants who sang a song.
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TENSION
To analyse the validity of the evidence, it was essential to summarize what exactly tension is. As
Deeter (2005) states ‘one of the many issues surrounding tension is the ability to recognize it and
diagnose its causes’ (p. 27). Altura & Altura (2001) describe tension as an overactive muscle that
goes into ‘spasm (prolonged contraction)’ and produces ‘aggravating types of pain’ (p.710). Deeter
(2005) adds that when a muscle repetitively contracts without any recovery it becomes hypertonic
and unable to relax. For that reason, it was important for the study to find out how participants
examined whether they carry muscular tension in their body. The survey showed that 4 participants
defined muscle tension based on three signs such as auditory (based on hearing the voice), physical
(based on palpation) and sensation (based on feeling discomfort). 3 participants considered muscle
tension by auditory and sensation processing and 1 participant by sensation signs only.
Figure 1: Participants’ Perception of Muscle Tension
4
3
1
auditory, physical,
sensation
auditory, sensation
sensation
RESEARCH FINDINGS
SURVEYS
Surveys gathered both qualitative data (via additional comments) and quantitative data (via likert
and nominal scales). The Likert scale had 10 points, started with 0 as a number that represented the
highest existing tension, 5 as an average, and 10 as a number that represented the lowest existing
tension. Each sliding scale was supported by the word ‘terrible’ under 0 and ‘extraordinary’ under 10
to help recreate positive and negative feeling/image. Please notice the flaw in the data collection as
the number 10 is NOT represented by the highest tension, the number 0 is. This was clearly stated
during the workshop and participants’ qualitative data equally responded to the quantitative data as
each scale rating was accompanied by voluntary additional comments.
Pre-Surveys
The written pre-survey collected mostly primary informative data such as age, tension awareness,
yoga and vocal training experience. The pre-survey indicated a high level of participants’ existing jaw,
tongue, and body tensions including 4 participants who had tried to prevent this accumulated tension
by stretching. The additional details tell us that nearly all participants went through vocal training and
all participants went through a yoga practice before. Additionally, I would like to mention that among
the participants was a survivor of tongue cancer (Subject K) and a person with a jaw inflammation
(Subject B).
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Post-Survey
After the workshop ended, the post-survey asked participants to rate their existing jaw, tongue, and
body tensions. The two graphs below compare the data taken from the pre-survey with data taken
from the post-survey. The aim was to indicate existing tension before and after the workshop and
use it as a tool that helps to find out whether yoga affects participants’ tensions and how. From the
participants’ post-survey, it is evident that everyone’s jaw and tongue tension had (in some cases
drastically) improved. Some respondents’ ratings (Subject D and K) jumped up over 5 points.
Everyone’s body tension reduced but not as drastically as jaw and tongue tensions.
Figure 2: Comparing the differences between ‘before’ and ‘after’ the workshop in regard to jaw and
tongue tensions
2
3
3
4
7
5
4
2
6
6
6
9
9
8
7
7
0
5
10
Subject A
Subject B
Subject C
Subject D
Subject G
Subject I
Subject J
Subject K
a participants' sliding scale where 0 is the highest
tension and 10 is the lowest tension
Figure 3: Comparing the differences between ‘before’ and ‘after’ the workshop in regard to body
tensions
4
5
3
4
7
4
3
2
6
8
7
8
9
6
5
7
0
5
10
Subject A
Subject B
Subject C
Subject D
Subject G
Subject I
Subject J
Subject K
a participants' sliding scale where 0 is the
highest tension and 10 is the lowest
tension
Before the workshop
After the workshop
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YOGA POSES
The main purpose of the post-surveys was to find out how each yoga pose affected each participant.
Firstly, respondents were asked to rate the impact of a pose on jaw and tongue tensions. Secondly,
they were guided to rate the impact of a pose on the voice. In addition to this, there was an
opportunity to comment under each Likert scale if they wished to. To make the rating easier it was
said that number 10 represented a positive impact and number 0 signified a negative impact, in
addition to what has already been said/written above about scales. After assessing the results for
each pose and its effect on the jaw, tongue and voice, it was obvious that some of these findings
were diverse depending on the participants’ needs and the demands of each pose. There were a few
reoccurring themes such as, the sense of connection and balance, release and safety, loosening and
the conflicting sense of straining. The research proposal was prepared for contrasting results as well
so the post-survey ended with three final questions that helped to summarize the effect of this
workshop on participants’ jaw, tongue, body tensions and voice. Participants were asked to either
pick ‘no because’ or ‘yes because’ answers on their open, nominal scales. Each choice let them to
optionally write about their experience. Also, all participants graded that this workshop was helpful
in regards to jaw and tongue tensions and that it had a noticeable and positive impact on their
speaking and singing.
Figure 4: The impact of the bridge pose on jaw, tongue and voice
Bridge Pose
4
6
6
7
7
4
8
7
3
6
6
7
9
8
7
7
0
5
10
Subject A
Subject B
Subject C
Subject D
Subject G
Subject I
Subject J
Subject K
participants' sliding scale
The impact on jaw and
tongue tensions
The impact on the voice
The results show that the bridge pose had positive impact on vocal projection on 7 of the
participants. 6 participants felt a release of their jaw and tongue tensions in this pose. 3 participants
voluntary commented on this pose, and the theme of a sense of connection and balance occurred.
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Figure 5: The impact of the child pose on jaw, tongue and voice
Child Pose
4
9
8
6
10
7
5
3
5
9
10
7
9
5
5
3
0
5
10
Subject A
Subject C
Subject G
Subject J
participants' sliding scale
The impact on jaw and
tongue tensions
The impact on the voice
The child pose brought the most opposing details, as the participants mostly picked either very high
or very low numbers. The occurring theme was a sense of release and safety.
Figure 6: The impact of the cow/cat pose on jaw, tongue and voice
Cow/Cat Pose
6
8
7
7
6
6
6
7
6
9
7
7
6
4
6
7
0
5
10
Subject A
Subject B
Subject C
Subject D
Subject G
Subject I
Subject J
Subject K
participants' sliding scale
The impact on jaw and
tongue tensions
The impact on the voice
When carrying out the cow/cat position, all 8 participants noticed reduction of the jaw and tongue
tension in this pose and 7 participants felt a positive impact on their voice. 3 participants
accompanied this pose with written comments but they did not show any occurring theme.
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Figure 7: The impact of the dolphin pose on jaw, tongue and voice
Dolphin Pose
4
7
2
6
7
4
6
2
4
7
2
7
8
7
6
2
0
5
10
Subject A
Subject B
Subject C
Subject D
Subject G
Subject I
Subject J
Subject K
participants' sliding scale
The impact on jaw and tongue
tensions
The impact on the voice
The dolphin pose received similar reactions as the child pose with lots of contrasting responses. The
written comments from 4 participants brought contrasting themes. The first theme was a sense of
straining and the second theme was a sense of loosening.
SUMMARY OF FINAL ANSWERS
When participants were asked ‘Did you find this workshop helpful in regards to jaw and tongue
tensions?’, 7 participants commented on this question and the theme of a sense of feeling relaxed
and a sense of gaining new knowledge occurred. When participants were asked ‘Do you think this
workshop had any positive impact on your speaking/singing?’, 7 participants commented on this
question and the theme of a sense of power occurred. When participants were asked to ‘freely write
about your experience/discoveries’, 7 participants commented on this question and the theme of a
sense of freedom, release and confidence occurred. The last three questions’ answers displayed
themes in all participants’ written responses such as a sense of feeling relaxed, gaining new
knowledge, power, freedom, release, and confidence. These findings correlate with Deeter (2005)
who says that:
‘yoga improves an individual's mental and physical health through the release of tension in the body,
a strengthening of the respiratory system and enhancement of breathing so the body's functioning is
more harmonious and balanced’ (p.30).
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Observation Checklist
Figure 8: Participants’ involvement in the workshop
5
3
Always involved
Often involved
The observation checklist was created to track how each participant fully engages in each exercise
and how much they truly participate. This was mainly captured by ticking off whether a specific
situation was happening always, if it was happening often or whether it was not observed at all. The
checklist showed that: all subjects ended the workshop with the same song or text that they used at
the beginning, they all engaged in the warm-up exercises and 5 participants paid attention during the
entire workshop and followed all the instructions. Based on my observation, some of the low
numbers ticked on participants’ survey could arise from their individual circumstances, such as not
wearing appropriate clothes (Subject A) or health issues that limited the exploration (Subject B, C
and K). This is a very helpful finding because it tells us that each body is different, and it needs a
tailor-made approach to each individual to experience the best possible outcomes.
Another finding that was made during this observation was that the jaw and the tongue do not work
in isolation. This means that once the tension is released from the body there might be another place
that holds some other tension. In other words, the body works as a single unit and whilst exposing
participants to targeted exercises, the tension can shift to another place that holds tension in the
body. In this case it was mainly moved to around the neck area. As Juhan (1987) mentions there is
no single muscle that controls one single motion; muscles may have anatomic individuality, but they
do not have functional individuality’ (p.113). Deeter (2005) adds that tension may be generated in
the primary mover, but it can affect the entire muscle group. One muscle can participate in multiple
groups, referring tension to other groups due to the interdependent structure of the muscular
system’ (p.28). This was the reason why the survey asked participants to rate their body tension on
the top of the jaw and the tongue tension. This was to help the researcher find out whether the jaw
and the tongue tension was released from the body or shifted to another place in the body.
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A Peer Review of Audio Recordings
Campbell et al. (2012) consider that a peer review is a critical and key element. This is because it
brings control, accuracy and quality to the work. Consequently, it was essential to invite another
individual who made sure that this study maintains objectivity. A qualified professional was asked to
examine the collected audio data by tracking any changes in participants’ vocal quality. The voice
specialist listened to each of the subjects’ recordings before the workshop and immediately the
recording of the same subject after the workshop. After that she wrote all her findings down in a
survey. This survey collected both qualitative and quantitative data. I used three types of coding:
value coding, that looked at a reviewer’s values and beliefs; versus coding, that looked at positive
and negative outcomes; and descriptive coding, that summarised the primary topics. The
quantitative peer review findings showed that each voice was positively affected by the physical
movement. The detailed writing and the clear clarification about the exact differences in each
subject revealed a few interesting facts. The first one is that 6 participants improved their resonance.
The second fact is that the same number of participants (6) ended up with a more expressive voice,
that flows and became effortless, but yet still connected to the word of the text or the song. The
survey’s results show that 2 participants spoke with the optimal voice after the workshop. Visser
(2006) addresses this by stating that optimal voice is the one that works more comfortably and
effectively with minimum effort and tension, whilst the habitual voice becomes accustomed as one
attempts or adopts various vocal qualities. On the other hand, these findings revealed contrasting
details in articulation. There was 1 participant who improved articulation and 3 participants who did
not improve it at all. Articulation was not the objective of this study, but I was not able to find the
reason why there was no sign of improvement in the participants within any literature reviews. In my
understanding this could relate to the sense of release when someone feels no need to focus. This
could be researched again by asking participants to deliver their speaking or singing to a focal point
in front of them.
Figure 9: Impact of the workshop on participants’ speaking and singing
7
7
8
7
6
6
6
6
0
5
10
Subject A
Subject B
Subject C
Subject D
Subject G
Subject I
Subject J
Subject K
reviewer's sliding scale where number 10
represents the biggest progress and number 0
represents no progress
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DISCUSSION
At this point it is important to summarize and acknowledge several issues about current and
prevailing findings. The participants’ surveys presented that everyone’s jaw, tongue and body
tensions were eliminated and freed up during this workshop. Whilst looking further into participants’
responses and the connection between yoga, tension and voice, these themes frequently occurred:
the sense of connection, balance, release, safety, loosening and the conflicting sense of straining.
The observation checklist showed that the sense of straining could relate to the individual’s existing
health issues. Other themes included: the sense of feeling relaxed, gaining new knowledge, power,
freedom, and confidence. These findings are supported by Deeter (2005) who states that physical
movement can strengthen the body and develop kinaesthetic awareness. She continues by saying
that yoga brings about body/mind/breath awareness, steadiness, relaxation, concentration,
detachment, self-confidence, flexibility, will power, self-control, patience, skillful use of energy in
thought, speech, and action, and determination’ (p.30). This statement was confirmed by the peer
review of the audio recordings as well. While going through the quantitative data in the peer review
surveys, it was evident that each participant voice was positively affected by this workshop.
These findings confirm my initial thoughts on the information gained from the literature review.
Preliminary data from Lloyd et al. (2017) confirms that the vocal yoga program reduced participants’
vocal burden and dysphonia symptoms. While Moliterno (2008) adds when ‘the physical instrument
is free and balanced, communication is clear, unguarded, and untainted by physical or emotional
distractions’ (p.52).
Looking at the results of the study, it appears that articulatory tensions influence phonation and
resonation (Gregg, 1997; LeFevre 2011). The jaw and the tongue are the main articulators involved in
speaking and singing. This study showed that through movement it is possible to release any
unwanted tensions and positively influence vocal expression.
VALIDITY AND LIMITATION
To assure correctness and credibility of this research, I had to be aware of, and rule out, two specific
validity threats. The potential validity threats were bias and reactivity and both could influence the
final findings of this research (Maxwell, 2005). I used triangulation. I applied different methods such
as: a pre-survey, a post-survey and an observation checklist. I also exerted a peer debriefing for
reviewing audio recordings (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). All this helped me capture the different
viewpoints of this research project and helped me to cross check the final findings. I applied Becker’s
Quasi-Statistics to obtain numeral data from a qualitative observation checklist (Becker, 1970).
Lincoln and Guba (1985) advocate the use of a reflexive journal to address ‘credibility, transferability,
dependability and confirmability of qualitative enquires’ (Geelan, 2007, p.19). I kept a reflexive
journal to regularly note down decisions and any additional logistics of the study. This was to help
me reflect upon my own interests and values. This was a very helpful and private experience, mostly
because I could be aware of my beliefs, assumptions and other reactions that occurred throughout
this research process. I also used multiple, theoretical perspectives such as a literature review and
research results. By presenting multiple realities, it ensured the research study was authentic. In
addition to this, I applied other activities that increased the probability that the findings were
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trustworthy and reliable. I did this with prolonged engagement in the field where the research was
conducted and persistent observation (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). In terms of limitation, it is important
to acknowledge that the sample size is small. This is a useful pilot study but to develop this work
further it will be of benefit to conduct another study with a larger sample size.
CONCLUSION
This study had several intentions, and the biggest aim of this study was to determine if yoga plays a
valuable and effective role in releasing jaw, tongue and body tensions. It was revealed during the
research-based workshop that this release has a beneficial impact on singing and speaking. This
finding reflects another aim of this study, in which the holistic idea that integrates all aspects of the
individual such as the body, mind, soul/emotions/voice play an important role during teaching voice.
As Carman (2004) says the practice of yoga leads the individual to self-knowledge on every level:
physical, mental, and spiritual. This study contributes to research in this field by showing the
important role of physical movement in vocal training. Neely (2016) adds that, one is never
separated from its instrument, so it is crucial to incorporate the role of human body in vocal
coaching and this conclusion meets the one of the aims of the study.
Another aim of this study was also to improve my own professional practice, enrich my anatomy
knowledge and better understand the link between the human body and voice. The research project
helped me to reflect upon my own pedagogical approach and the quality of my teaching. This study
gave me new tools to support my ongoing teaching practice, along with building up my resilience
when unexpected situations occurred. Due to this study I can better understand my own voice, body
and mind which has a positive effect, not only on my teaching, but on my career as a singer.
Larrivee (2000) states that it is required that ‘the teacher remains fluid and able to move in many
directions, rather than stuck only being able to move in one direction as situations occur’ (p.293).
This statement resonated with this project the entire time due to the occurrence of many
unexpected circumstances such as: the lack of research studies, the necessity to resolve these
situations and stay adaptable to all that was happening. This reflective process allowed me to be
accountable for the quality of pedagogy I offer and helped me to speak up in the field I am interested
in.
During this study it became apparent that it is problematic to find a research study that focuses
purely on the voice-body connection and the role of movement in vocal training. With that said I
believe that physical movement will become part of vocal training in the future. This statement is
mostly based on a couple of recent peer review articles that are discuss that there is slow, but
growing, recognition of the whole-body approach in vocal production (Craig et al., 2005; Kooijman et
al., 2005; Roy et al. 2009; Gilman, 2010) and the important role of movement in vocal therapy
(Carman, 2004; Kuhn, 2006; Moliterno, 2008). This led me to reflect upon how the findings from this
study could inform others. This study connected findings from peer review articles about anatomy,
muscular tension, yoga, physical movement and applied them in practice during a workshop which
found that yoga and movement do help release tensions, and therefore, it has a positive effect on
vocal expression. Reflecting upon this research study I recommend using physical movements during
vocal training as a preventative approach and a tool to re-educate the body-mind-voice connection.
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Purpose: This study sought to determine decoupled tongue and jaw displacement changes and their specific contributions to acoustic vowel contrast changes during slow, loud, and clear speech. Method: Twenty typical talkers repeated "see a kite again" 5 times in 4 speech conditions (typical, slow, loud, clear). Speech kinematics were recorded using 3-dimensional electromagnetic articulography. Tongue composite displacement, decoupled tongue displacement, and jaw displacement during /ai/, as well as the distance between /a/ and /i/ in the F1-F2 vowel space, were examined during the diphthong /ai/ in "kite." Results: Displacements significantly increased during all 3 speech modifications. However, jaw displacements increased significantly more during clear speech than during loud and slow speech, whereas decoupled tongue displacements increased significantly more during slow speech than during clear and loud speech. In addition, decoupled tongue displacements increased significantly more during clear speech than during loud speech. Increases in acoustic vowel contrast tended to be larger during slow speech than during clear speech and were predominantly tongue-driven, whereas those during clear speech were fairly equally accounted for by changes in decoupled tongue and jaw displacements. Increases in acoustic vowel contrast during loud speech were smallest and were predominantly tongue-driven, particularly in men. Conclusions: Findings suggest that task-specific patterns of decoupled tongue and jaw displacement change and task-specific patterns of decoupled tongue and jaw contributions to vowel acoustic change across these speech modifications. Clinical implications are discussed.
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Phenomenology originated as a novel way of doing philosophy early in the twentieth century. In the writings of Husserl and Heidegger, regarded as its founders, it was a non-empirical kind of philosophical enquiry. Although this tradition has continued in a variety of forms, ‘phenomenology’ is now also used to denote an empirical form of qualitative research (PQR), especially in health, psychology and education. However, the methods adopted by researchers in these disciplines have never been subject to detailed critical analysis; nor have the methods advocated by methodological writers who are regularly cited in the research literature. This book examines these methods closely, offering a detailed analysis of worked-through examples in three influential textbooks by Giorgi, van Manen, and Smith, Flowers and Larkin. Paley argues that the methods described in these texts are radically under-specified, and suggests alternatives to PQR as an approach to qualitative research, particularly the use of interview data in the construction of models designed to explain phenomena rather than merely describe or interpret them. This book also analyses, and aims to develop, the implicit theory of ‘meaning’ found in PQR writings. The author establishes an account of ‘meaning’ as an inference marker, and explores the methodological implications of this view. This book evaluates the methods used in phenomenology-as-qualitative-research, and formulates a more fully theorised alternative. It will appeal to researchers and students in the areas of health, nursing, psychology, education, public health, sociology, anthropology, political science, philosophy and logic.
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This study investigated the role of a specialized physical therapy program for muscle tension dysphonia patients as an adjunct to standard of care voice therapy. Retrospective Cohort Study Methods Adult MTD patients seen between 2007 and 2012 were identified from the clinical database. They were prescribed voice therapy and, if concomitant neck pain, adjunctive physical therapy. In a pragmatic observational cohort design, patients underwent one of four potential treatment approaches: voice therapy alone (VT), voice therapy and physical therapy (VT+PT), physical therapy alone (PT), or incomplete/no treatment. Voice handicap outcomes were compared between treatment approaches. Of 153 patients meeting criteria (Median age 48 years, 68% female, and 30% had fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, depression, and/or anxiety), there was a similar distribution of patients with moderate or severe pre-treatment VHI scores across treatment groups (VT 45.5%, VT+PT 43.8%, PT 50%, no treatment 59.1%; p=0.45). Patients treated with VT alone had significantly greater median improvement in VHI than those not treated: 10-point vs. 2-point (p=0.02). Interestingly, median VHI improvement in patients with baseline moderate-severe VHI scores was no different between VT (10), VT+PT (8) and PT alone (10; p=0.99). Findings show voice therapy to be an effective approach to treating MTD. Importantly, other treatment modalities incorporating physical therapy had a similar, albeit not significant, improvement in VHI. This preliminary study suggests that physical therapy techniques may have a role in the treatment of a subset of MTD patients. Larger, comparative studies are needed to better characterize the role of physical therapy in this population. The reader will describe symptoms associated with muscle tension dysphonia and current treatment. The reader will describe the systematic adjunctive physical therapy approach and understand the rationale to consider incorporation of physical therapy into the current treatment regimen. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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This study examined the interarticulatory behaviors of the tongue,jaw, and palate. The effects of the vowels [i] and [α] on the consonants [l] and [s] were studied using electropalatography (EPG), Selspot, and Ultrasound imaging. Three subjects repeated [ilila], [alol∂], [isis∂], and [asas∂] five times each. Tongue-palate contact patterns, jaw position, and cross-sectional tongue surface profiles were measured. Results indicated that assimilation effects on one articulator could elicit compensatory maneuvers in a related articulator to assure that key articulators reached their target. This effect was similar to compensatory maneuvers resulting from experimentally-induced jaw perturbations. The study also was able to represent the vocal tract constriction with just two degrees of freedom: shape and openness. Finally, if the jaw was moderately high, tongue shape and EPG pattern relationships could be determined.