‘Yoga for Singers’ Workshops Explore Mind-Body-Spirit Connection
Singers interested in using mind-body awareness to improve their vocal technique and overall performance are encouraged to register for a series of public workshops presented by CNY Singing Garden, a Syracuse-based private voice studio.
Soprano Laura Enslin and tenor Daniel Fields ’17, professional singers and certified yogis affiliated with Syracuse University (SU), will co-lead a trio of Sunday afternoon workshops called Yoga for Singers. The series runs Jan. 6, Jan. 13 and Feb. 3 from 3-5 p.m. at DeWitt Community Church (3600 Erie Blvd.).
Yoga for Singers is open to all singers (preferably ages 14 and up), regardless of musical or yogic experience. Admission is $50 for one workshop, $85 for two workshops and $110 for all three. College students are eligible for a 10 percent discount, but must present a student identification card upon arrival.
Space is limited, and registration is required. To register or get more information, visit singinggarden.org/yogaforsingers, or call Enslin at 315.436.2970.
“This is an opportunity to see how the science of yoga can be incorporated into a vocalist’s daily practice,” says Enslin, CNY Singing Garden’s founder who also teaches voice and yoga at SU. “The science is used to balance prana, which refers to the life force given to us at birth—our first breath. Yogic practice builds good breath management, while reducing stress and performance anxiety.”
Fields agrees, saying increased focus also promotes expressive and authentic singing. “These time-honored techniques help you tap into your higher potential, whether you sing onstage, in church or in the shower,” he adds.
Yoga for Singers is the brainchild of Fields, who earned a bachelor’s degree in voice performance from the Rose, Jules R. and Stanford S. Setnor School of Music in SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), and Enslin, who teaches voice in VPA.
The duo takes a trifecta approach to their work, combining the mental, physical and spiritual aspects of singing.
The first workshop, “Free the Body: Authentic Movement for Singers,” is Jan. 6 in DCC’s Miller Commons. The program uses expressive ritual movement and dance to help integrate one’s mind, body and spirit. Special emphasis is on the vocal technique of intoning and on a unique physical and spiritual practice called JourneyDance.
Fields, a certified JourneyDance facilitator, says no dance experience is required. “It’s not about learning steps; it’s about rediscovering your natural intuitive movement,” he explains. “JourneyDance invokes a physical and emotional transformation.”
The next workshop, “Free the Mind: Mindfulness and Energy Awareness for Singers,” is Jan. 13 in the DCC parlor. The session explores how mindfulness techniques, including meditation, pranayama (ancient breathing exercises and techniques) and energy work, can unlock one’s vocal potential.
“Sound is a form of energy associated with the vibrations of matter,” says Enslin, who has taught musical theater and jazz and commercial music at SU for more than 12 years. “If parts of your body are blocked, the vibrations cannot freely flow. This workshop shows you how to clear such tension, while keeping your instrument in tip-top shape.”
The final session, “Free the Spirit: Yoga for Singers,” is Feb. 3, also in the DCC parlor. Singers will acquire a basic, daily yoga routine that increases vocal strength, flexibility and stamina and reduces jaw, tongue and neck tension. Each participant should wear loose, comfortable clothing, and bring a yoga mat.
“We’ll explore a variety of basic asanas [poses] and pranayama that can be incorporated into your daily vocal warm-ups,” says Fields, a rising star on the regional concert circuit who regularly performs with the Society for New Music.
Like Fields, Enslin is a critically acclaimed soloist, recitalist and teacher. She previously taught voice in Rochester, New York, at Nazareth College and the Eastman School of Music, earning a master’s degree from the latter.
Enslin recently founded CNY Singing Garden to offer private lessons, workshops and small-group classes to singers of all ages and backgrounds.
“Singing is not an elitist endeavor, but, rather, is one’s birthright,” she says. “Each person’s voice is as unique as a fingerprint, and deserves to unfold, blossom and share its beauty with others. Through mind-body awareness, we singers can heal ourselves and ultimately the world around us.”