The focus of this ‘yawn-sigh’ exercise is to help clients phonate without deliberately forcing or pushing the voice. Clients should be encouraged to identify for themselves the relaxed, easy phonation and the absence of any resistance or blocks to producing voice. They can be reminded that the vowels are ‘open’ sounds, i.e. there is no blockage in the vocal tract during their production. The vocal tract should be relaxed and open.
[The Yawn-Sigh technique is helpful in other areas of speech-language therapy and appears elsewhere on this website (see Yawn-sigh (PSP)). However, it is reproduced here so that it can be easily located as part of the Strengthening the Speaking Voice course.]
Yawn-Sigh into Vowels
To begin with:
- Using the abdominal breathing technique, take in an easy, relaxed breath through your mouth while yawning gently. [This is an easy, relaxed yawn – the sort you might do if you were listening to someone and you started to yawn but didn’t want the other person to see you were yawning.: a kind of ‘stifled yawn’. Gentle yawning relaxes the whole of the back of the throat.]
- Now gently expel the air as if sighing – this should create a sensation of ‘letting go’; release the breath in a relaxed and easy manner.
- Repeat steps 1-2 three times.
- Now, take in another easy, relaxed breath through the mouth while yawning.
- Gently expel the air as if sighing but this time, on the out breath, gradually shape the first vowel sound oo – this should not be forced in any way.
- Repeat steps 4-5 three times.
- Repeat steps 4-6 with each of the remaining vowel sounds in the vowel wheel, i.e. oh, aw, ah, ay, ee.
- For further practice, begin at the top of the vowel wheel with oo and then work your way around the wheel clockwise, yawning-sighing-shaping each vowel in turn. Notice sensations of relaxation and openness, and that there is no blockage to production of the voice. Do this three times.
Remember: voice exercises are gentle and there should be no forcing or straining — you should also be using abdominal breathing throughout.
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