Last month I spent a week in Stockholm, Sweden, teaching my Yoga Tune Up® Integrated Embodied Anatomy module to a group of future yoga teachers at Yogayama studio. I arrived in icy-cold Stockholm late at night after a 22-hour journey. When I awoke jet-lagged the next morning, I was hoarse — very hoarse. With 20+ hours of teaching ahead of me over the next four days, I was concerned. There was no way to call in a “sub.”
Somehow I made it through the first day of yoga classes with some amount of pushing and strain. But on morning #2, the voice was completely shot. I mean 100 percent gone. For six hours, I pantomimed my way through the anatomy lessons … and liberally used Dagmar Khan, one of our European Yoga Tune Up® teachers who’d flown in from Ireland to attend the course. Like a versatile United Nation’s translator, she would speak aloud my whispered words so the crowd of 30 could hear me in the studio.
Silence is a golden opportunity
That night after the session, my hostess, Anna Hultman, rushed me to a city clinic so that I could see a doctor. On the way there, she told me that the students actually enjoyed Day #2 more than Day #1. “And don’t take this the wrong way,” she said, “but they liked it more because you spoke less.”
Indeed. With my voice gone, my mind and mouth had to edit 80 percent of the “excess speech” I might frequently use to qualify or explain concepts. I had to economize and distill my lessons into their most potent form and transfer the onus of learning away from my vocal chords and into their bodies.
Luckily, I design my embodied teaching so that the complicated interrelated systems of the body can be understood through experiencing them in the body, not just through a two-dimensional slide show. I teach people to be students of their own bodies, not students of my body, my mind or my voice. I give them tools to listen to the sensations emanating from different tissue layers, learn to recognize different neurological relay patterns … so that ultimately, they don’t need me to guide them. They can navigate themselves.
In writing, this all sounds a bit esoterically theoretical, but in the classroom, these methods make the body come alive as never before. They become anatomically fluent.
Still speechless in Sweden
The doctor took a blood test and ruled out bacterial infection. (I never actually felt sick or had a fever … I had just completely lost my voice.) He told me to rest and be silent for two days (all of this in Swedish of course). Anna told him that I was “an important Anatomy teacher from the U.S. and had to deliver a lecture for the next two days, so rest was impossible.” So he caved and gave me a very strong steroid that would work for 24 hours to reduce inflammation.
But it didn’t really work. I woke up on Day #3 and still sounded like a ghost. A ghost who occasionally croaked like a frog.
Stay tuned for part two and find out how Jill got her voice back!
[reprinted with permission from Gaiam Life.]