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Announcing The Health Centre blog…taking care of the mind, body and soul of the singer. This series of blogs will cover all sorts of interesting therapies, health tips and soul soothing advice for the singer. Today’s blog by Anna Bernard looks into how acupuncture can help the singer.
Acupuncture and the voice
Today – April 16th is World Voice Day – a day to celebrate healthy voices and vocal skills. Take a moment to imagine what your life would be like without your voice. And if you use your voice for a living, take those thoughts a step further. We take so much for granted with our voices – rarely stopping to marvel at how amazing it is; for example, it can fill a huge concert hall yet the vocal cords are roughly the size of a postage stamp! When we are babies, we know exactly how to scream for hours without damaging our voices but as we get older, life can get in the way, breathing can be a hindrance rather than a support and we pick up habits that cause problems.
These problems can come in many different varieties and vocal care at the onset is paramount. The British Voice Association and Voice Care Network are great resources for voice tips. Plenty of hydration, steaming, avoid overwork and have days with minimal voice use, avoid alcohol and smoking. All good ideas but sometimes when our overall health is out of balance it has a direct influence on our voices and if we are suffering emotionally, our voices can follow. It’s very hard to sing or speak when you’re about to cry so imagine months or years of that emotion being stuck in our vocal cords. I believe our ability to express ourselves fully is a key part to our freedom in life. This is where acupuncture comes into it’s own.
What does acupuncture do?
Acupuncture is a safe and effective system of healing which has been practiced for thousands of years. It treats the whole person; addressing underlying weaknesses, which in turn strengthens the person from the inside. It alleviates symptoms by stimulating the body’s own healing response, which helps to restore its natural balance. Acupuncture can be used to restore health not only from physical illness, but also when our minds and spirits are in need.
So the beauty is that acupuncture can work at all levels to address issues that restrict your ability to speak or sing.
It treats both the body and the mind, and as every physical illness has an emotional component, the physical and emotional components can reinforce each other, resulting in a downwards spiral. By treating only the physical problem, you can leave the emotional state still impaired, and complete recovery may be delayed. For example, laryngitis—a physical condition that leads to a cancelled performance or audition—can create anxiety that can lead to increased muscle tension in the larynx, neck, and shoulders; insomnia; and even some depression. When the physical problem resolves, lingering muscle tension can continue to cause discomfort or hoarseness. Acupuncture can treat both simultaneously, allowing for a more rapid and complete return to health.
How I got in to it
I am a voice over artist, singer and acupuncturist (although not at the same time) and 7 years ago, I had a cyst removed from my vocal cords. It took me on a journey to the heart of vocal health and a long and vital exploration of healthy technique, which is a whole other conversation. I believe our vocal health is an individual journey with some fundamental truths along the way. And on my journey, I used myself as a guinea pig and discovered that I could use acupuncture to help me with amazing results.
How I found acupuncture help me
I have a huge tendency to hold tension in my jaw (open your mouth wider Anna – its OK to be heard, even if you think it sounds rubbish!). When I’ve been going through a period of heavy clamping, an acupuncture session can get me totally back on track and its amazing the different sound I can produce without TMJ. Tongue tension is another one of my favourites (Hold on – we’re going higher!) and some interesting placed needles can relieve this pesky habit too. And also our muscle memory has a chance to realign and get in a new groove.
I can feel stuck emotionally in life too and this has a direct effect on my voice so I can also help things to flow and if I’m nervous before auditions or a gig and I can help my anxiety using acupuncture too.
And then there are your basic colds, sore throats, dryness and sinusitis, which can often turn up at an inopportune moment. These acute conditions are dealt with so effectively making acupuncture especially useful for the vocal performer. Not only does it often works immediately but when properly done, it has a very low complication rate. It can be repeated as necessary, and, over time, it has a cumulative benefit beyond its immediate effect. It can omit the need for prescription medications, many of which have unintended side effects. For example, acupuncture treatment of pain can be dramatic and immediate, without the side effects of stomach irritation and potential vocal fold hemorrhage that may result from excessive use of aspirin or other analgesics. Nasal and sinus congestion can be effectively managed without using vocally drying antihistamines or decongestants. Also, lower back pain and menstrual cramps can significantly impair singing, and these conditions can often be relieved with just one acupuncture session.
I am passionate about the voice and acupuncture and it is a privilege that I can marry the two. If you’d like to know more, please visit my website on www.liveyourvoice.co.uk
Have you had any experience with acupuncture you wish to share? Let me know in the comments box.
And if you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
I’d like to offer any Shed Light Event readers in the London region half price consultation, just quote ‘Shed Light Events’ when you contact me.
Anna Bernard Lic. Ac, MBAC, BA Hons 2:1
I studied Psychology as a degree when I was young and have always found people fascinating. I spent my 20’s in corporate life and the entertainment sector before having acupuncture myself. It was a life-changing experience and I never looked back, deciding to study Chinese medicine immediately. I had found the way I wanted to help people.
I am now an expert in the field of fertility acupuncture having worked alongside Zita West. I have trained in New York alongside the pioneering ENT surgeon Dr Anthony Jahn and have completed post-graduate studies with Peter Firebrace and Debra Bretts.
I am dedicated to my work as a practitioner. I love what I do and the journey that acupuncture can take you on. My aim is to give back what the world takes out.