Windsong Voice and Yoga

Educating and Empowering Through Music, Movement & Yoga

Self - Myofascial - Release

What is Self-Myofascial Release (SMR)?

SMR is a practice in which we use a tool (such as a tennis ball), gravity and our breath / awareness to exert pressure on muscle tissues in various areas of the body. One major goal of SMR is to release excess tension we may be carrying.

Have you ever had a massage and noticed how incredibly relaxed your throat felt afterwards? Although SMR is not a long-term substitute for body work or massage, SMR tools can help you feel relaxed and grounded on a daily basis & while you’re on the go: at the office, before a rehearsal, audition, performance or practice session.

***Disclaimer: Yoga, movement and self-myofascial release are NOT substitutes for medical attention, medical diagnosis or medical treatment (including physical therapy or psychotherapy). Under certain medical conditions, these practices are not recommended for safety concerns. Please consult a medical professional before practicing.

The Case for SMR: Our Body IS Our Instrument!

Have you ever tried playing a large bongo drum or djembe while tightening your arms and shoulders and bracing your abdomen? What happens to the sound? It gets muffled. The tension in the shoulders, arms and abdomen has an dampening effect on the resonance of the drum. However, if you lengthen the spine, relax the upper body, tap into gravity and allow the hands to bounce off of the drum head, you’ll most likely get a fuller, rounder tone.

Similarly, when we carry excess tension in the body and over-effort WHILE SINGING our vocal sound resonates differently. It’s more muted and less full and rich. The process of undoing those patterns of over-tightening, while optimizing breath and posture can produce a richer, freer vocal sound. That’s where the practices of yoga and self-myofascial release can help.


Self-Myofascial Release + Yoga

Yoga postures help re-enforce the increased range of motion cultivated through SMR releases. With regular practice, this combination can help optimize posture and breath patterns.

For example, if you experience shoulder rounding, you might use an SMR tool to release the rhomboids (muscles between the shoulder blades) and then follow that up with yoga postures that activate that area (e.g. cobra, shoulder shrugs, etc.).

Common Postural Tendencies & Tension Patterns Addressed with Yoga + SMR

  • Excessively tensing the abdomen / PUSHING (especially in belting / high notes)
  • Disengaged abdomen (lack of awareness)
  • Forward head carriage
  • Shoulder rounding
  • Lordosis / kyphosis
  • Using the head/neck / shoulders to ‘help’ inhalation
  • Heaving / lifting shoulders to ‘help’ inhalation
  • Sucking in the abdomen during inhalation
  • Bracing the glutes while singing
  • Tight tongue & jaw
  • Tight occipitals
  • Tight throat/larynx
  • Tight quads & hamstrings
  • Wrinkling the brow to ‘help’ sing high notes
  • Tight back line of the body
  • Tight front line of the body
  • General lack of physical awareness

Benefits of SMR:

Although there are many potential benefits of a regular SMR practice, there are several that are especially relevant to singers.

 

SMR can help singers:

  • Downregulate the nervous system
  • Increase proprioception & improve general physical awareness.
  • Feel more grounded and calm.
  • Decrease physical tension.
  • Increase breath awareness.
  • Optimize ribcage range of motion.
  • Optimize shoulder range of motion.
  • Reduce head / neck / shoulder / jaw / facial tension
  • Optimize posture.

 

What is fascia?

Fascia is the interconnected web of collagenous fiber woven in, around muscle fibers throughout the entire body. The term ‘myo’ refers to muscle tissue.

 

Self-Myofascial Release Tools

In addition to using tennis balls, I teach this practice using tools created by RAD Mobility. You can check out some of their SMR tools HERE.

***NOTE: I am not a RAD Roller representative or salesperson. I do not make any profit when students purchase tools. I personally use the tools because I find them to be incredibly effective. Students are under no pressure or obligation to purchase tools.

 

How often can I practice?

SMR is safe enough to practice every day and easy to integrate into a busy schedule. If you carry a tennis ball or other SMR tool in your purse or travel bag, it can be easy to do a 5 or 10-minute practice while on lunch break, between tasks, or even before bed.

“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.” ~ Closing Mantra

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Copyright © Madeline Miskie