[See Part 1 of this blog post here.]

Pop star salvation: Stick our your tongue like a rock god!

On Day #4 I was audible. I had one more special, two-hour Core Integration workshop to teach, all about the diaphragm, core strength, breath and cool gut stuff. At the end of the workshop, a blond pixie-haired Swedish lady introduced herself to me as Robyn and said that she was a singer and has toured for the last five years without getting hoarse by doing a special tongue massage. She told me, “Stick out your tongue and play with it, pull on it just like a baby. Put your fingers in your mouth and massage it, it will release your vocal chords … and massage your throat, too.”

Swedish pop star, Robyn. Photo: Lorne Thomson

I went back to my hotel, filled the tub and soaked while I massaged the base of my tongue from inside my mouth. It was so freakin’ tight! After 15 minutes (and a lot of drool), I started to have an upper register and a smoother tone. As the base of my tongue relaxed, the inner muscles of my throat gave way, allowing my vocal chords to vibrate again. Waves of tears also sprang out of my eyes, and I could cry out loud instead of in silence. This was the miracle I had been looking for! No lozenge, no inhaler, no steroid nor tea could substitute for fumbling through my own inner tension by taking a hold of it at the root — the root of my tongue.

Life on the road has been incredibly stressful for the past year (I have traveled for more than 140 days out of the last 365), and my inoperable voice is clearly trying to tell me something. Some of the many inner messages that I heard were: Slow down. Be still. Listen to love. Speak for silence. Sing more. (I really like that one!)

Lose your voice, listen with your heart

I am eternally grateful to Robyn. (Did you see her on Saturday Night Live with Katy Perry in December? She is awesome!) She is the best Swedish massage teacher on the planet. The student definitely became the teacher in this instance, and I am so glad she spoke up.

So the next time you lose your voice and are wondering how to regain it, go looking for it with your own hands, and keep your heart listening as you take the plunge.

[reprinted with permission from Gaiam Life.]

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Jill Miller

Jill Miller, C-IAYT, ERYT is the co-founder of Tune Up Fitness Worldwide and creator of the self-care fitness formats Yoga Tune Up® and The Roll Model® Method. With more than 30 years of study in anatomy and movement, she is a pioneer in forging relevant links between the worlds of fitness, yoga, massage, athletics and pain management. She is known as the Teacher’s Teacher and has trained thousands of movement educators, clinicians, and manual therapists to incorporate her paradigm shifting self-care fitness programming into athletic and medical facility programs internationally. She has crafted original programs for 24 Hour Fitness, Equinox, YogaWorks, and numerous professional sports teams. She and her team of 500+ trainers help you to live better in your body with an emphasis on proprioception, mobility, breath mechanics and recovery. She has presented case studies at the Fascia Research Congress and International Association of Yoga Therapy conferences. She has the rare ability to translate complex physiological and biomechanical information into accessible, relevant moves that help her students transform pain, dysfunction and injury into robust fitness. Jill is the anatomy columnist for Yoga Journal Magazine and has been featured in Shape, Men’s Journal, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health, Yoga Journal, Self, and on the Today Show and Good Morning America. Jill is regularly featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network. She is the creator of dozens of DVD’s including Treat While You Train with Kelly Starrett DPT and is the author of the internationally bestselling book The Roll Model: A Step by Step Guide to Erase Pain, Improve Mobility and Live Better in your Body. Based in Los Angeles, CA, she is a wife and mother of two small children and is currently writing her second book.

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Shelby Williams

Tongue massage! I will have to remember that. How awesome it is that she was able to share something like that with you. I can’t wait to try it out!

Charlene Lowe

Thank you! Since i became a yoga teacher losing my voice happens more frequently. I’m going to try this the next time it happens.

Andree-Anne Gagnon

I have been struggling with my voice for years and have “pushed on” far too many times to count, teaching with a barely audible voice. While I have tried to learn and integrate the lessons my body is sending me (slow down!) , I do look forward to having a new, non-pharmaceutical, tool to try if it happens again. Thanks!

Jennie

So amazing, I hearing how people can learn to self massage the body to release the muscles naturally that otherwise are prescribed something. Such a terrible experience turned into such a learning opportunity.

Marilyn gibson

Interesting I would read this blog today. Yesterday i felt myself clearing my throat and at times losing all together. I liked this unique approach to unwinding the physical while finding the emotional. This has been a big lesson in my life that whatever is going on in my body is screaming something about my internal thoughts and or external actions. Thank you for your brutal honesty. i believe it is something missing in the traditional yoga ccommunity.

Andrea Borrero

ah! this is perfect – I’m going to try the massage technique a little tonight and then again tomorrow morning. Thing is, I’ve been thinking lately, as I lose my voice, that it’s a clear sign of overuse & something has to give. I’m not a big talker by nature, so all of the teaching that i’ve been doing in the last couple of months – which has been wonderful in many, many ways – has begun to leave me frayed at the edges a bit. Which means it’s time for a shift, a transformation, a new direction – a… Read more »

Jordan Kersten

Wow, what a helpful article! I am reading for my Yoga Tune Up training, and I happen to be an opera and musical theatre singer. I have been hoarse the past few days and while I think some of it is owing to acid reflux, I am definitely going to try this technique! Unexpected bit of vocal wisdom (and of course, as a teacher I need to keep my voice going too.) Thanks for sharing!

Cheryl

I loved this — as a Speech Pathologist, I often treat patients with voice disorders, many of them, “professional voice users” (actors, teachers, etc.) — and it seems that people don’t nurture or appreciate their voice — until that day when it doesn’t “show up” for you. Your voice is your calling card and it will define you. It will reveal all your secrets — if you’re sick or dehydrated or spent the night “partying” ’til the wee hours, you may still look cute at work the next day but your voice will sound tired. And the more you strain… Read more »

Elizabeth W.

I have studied voice on and off for my whole life. I am grateful to have found, at a young age, a teacher who took a very, very physical approach to singing. She would have me push and pull things to get my back muscles involved. She taught me the anatomy of the neck, throat and jaw and introduced me to “mobility” for those areas. She even sent me to body workers who worked exclusively with singers. I am currently in an off-period from singing but when I go back the first thing I will do is loosen up the… Read more »

Natural Sore Throat Relief | Yoga Tune Up

[…] Read how someone lost their voice and got it back naturally. […]

Fariba

Wow! Such a great experience! You healed yourself and now you are sharing it with us, so we can heal ourselves in the same situation. Thanks.

Nicolette

Awesome!!!! This had the feelings of a fairy tale–maybe it was the two parts, the suspense, the message, or perhaps the colorful way that Jill writes. Whatever it was, I loved it! And before putting my hands on my keyboard to respond, I got a little curious and applicably, as i am now a much more committed student of my body(thanks to YTU teacher training), figured out what exactly Jill-and Robyn- were talking about. Wow! Having taught 3 classes yesterday and 3 the day before(2 in a heated environment), my tongue needed some massaging. Drool indeed! Have a washcloth nearby… Read more »

alysa farrell

OK…wierd,gross, icky and Loving IT! I just read part 1&2 back to back…during my work season of teaching and speaking ALL day , day after day by the 3rd month I start channeling Kathleen Turner. I NEVER Thought about the TOUNGE! so cool! I love massagging my scalenes even under collarbone and squeezing my SCM’s, masseters but it just Isn’t DEEP enough. As a kid growing up on a cattle ranch Ive actually played w a cows tounge…just the tounge after the steer was butchered,I know gross and spongey… But it IS apart of the whole. I am adding this… Read more »

Angela

As someone who has lost her voice twice this year I will be trying this! I don’t know why I never thought to massage my own tongue it would have saved me hundreds of dollars on lozenges, sprays, teas, etc!! The first time I lost my voice I became so much more aware of how essential it is to my teaching. It was also good practice to not have a voice to better help me find my own voice! I found too that working my tongue muscle helps to release tension in my jaw and working on better vocals helps… Read more »

Gloria Tan

Jill, so, I guess a tiny yoga tune up ball for the tongue would have too much of a choking hazard liability? 🙂 Darned, that could have been another big marketing item. :/
But, thanks for sharing the awesome information. I’ll definitely have to try it. I’ve never heard of this before. so cool.

Renate

Ah, that is too cool! And it makes so much sense. Thanks for sharing.

Diana

I noticed that the *morning after* my first YTU Integrated Anatomy class, I felt like singing on my way to Day 2 and felt pleasantly surprised to note unusual clarity and ease in my voice. As a wannabe singer, I attribute this to the work YTU ball work on the breathing muscles. Thanks for this extra bonus!

Jamie

Perfect timing for me to read this article, as I am currently recovering from a cold and having lost my voice. Wish I would have known about this sooner! Also, I have terribly painful TMJ and arthritis is my jaw, so in physical therapy, yoga, and accupuncture,I am learning how important parts of our bodies like our tongues are. Our tongues effect so many more muscles than I would have ever imagined, and I have been advised to stretch and strengthen my tongue and other muscles that are around my jaw. Doing Lion’s breath helps stretch my tongue as well.… Read more »

Taylor

I would have never thought to try something like this – sometimes i find that losing my voice is my biggest fear as a teacher. Without my voice, how will i instruct students? While there are other ways, it’s also nice to have your voice to support you. This will be on my ‘body maintenance’ list going forward.

Jessica Patterson

This is fascinating. I have been a teacher (yoga for 6 years, writing/composition a few years before that!), and I have noticed over the past year that I get hoarse and even lose my voice after big intensive trainings, workshops, etc. I wrestled with what I termed laryngitis for weeks and weeks before I eventually ended up in bed, in the fetal position, with the flu and bronchitis. But, as Jill wrote, I know that my lost voice had as much to do with not listening to my heart (which had recently been broken) and needing to slow the pace… Read more »

Connie

Also I LOVE Robyn!

Connie

It’s amazing! I think we forget that our tongue is a muscle just like our quadricep. In fact I forget about the muscles in my face in general and know that they hold as much (probably more) tension as any other muscle. I like the notion of getting at the muscles themselves rather then trying remedies such as lozenges, teas, I’m especially interested to see how this could help the next time I get a cold.

Marc

I have to say, the idea of doing this sounds incredibly strange and even somewhat icky. Yet, it makes perfect sense.
In the same way it felt a bit odd to pinch and roll my skin, it made perfect sense. It’s all living tissue in need of attention and maintenance. I’m not quite sure I’ll be attempting this right away but I’m curious enough to have it in my movement Queue. The lessons never stop.

Heidi Knapp

This is so cool. I can’t wait to start exploring all of the ball techniques you provided me with for the facial muscles and this one as well. In your therapy ball training the other day when we moved to facial massage I felt tortured, I knew it was coming. My mind started to say “enough Heidi, enough,” meanwhile I heard your voice muffled in the background over my own, discussing body blind spots and habitual tension held in the body. Well this was something I knew all along, but it was that BINGO moment that told me to be… Read more »