1. Take your shoes off.
Seriously, it is that simple. No matter how low the heel, shoes will throw your alignment off. Heeled shoes pitch you forward and make your body contort itself to try and stay as a vertical column and it gets worse the higher the heel. So, whether you are wearing cushy, comfy running shoes or 3 inch heels your body is creating patterns that will hinder your joints and muscles which, in turn, alters your breathing which, in turn, alters your voice. If you’re really serious about it you can switch to wearing ‘barefoot’ shoes, but the transition time into those should be long to allow your body to accommodate them. And, I admit the barefoot shoes aren’t exactly cute. I’m still working on getting over that part. You could start by having a ‘shoes off policy’ in your house and studio. Singers will still have to address shoe requirements for roles and that will mean practicing in your performance shoes to adjust to the changes they create in the body and voice.
2. Sit appropriately
If you are sitting at rehearsal or sitting at a piano or sitting to watch TV, you need to be mindful. For the vast majority of us we tend to roll back and sit on the tailbone/sacral area. This puts your pelvis into a tucked position. Couple that with the shortening of the hamstrings that happens from lots of sitting and you have a recipe for alignment disaster! To sit properly in a chair, sit far forward so you can feel the Sitz Bones (the bottom of your pelvis on either side). You can drop one knee to help make your pelvis move towards neutral. Think about this the next time you are in a rehearsal and sitting for 2 hours straight! Also, when you are home, try sitting on the floor instead of your couch to watch TV!
3. Stand Well
When you stand today, look down at your feet. Have them pointing straight forward – often we stand with our toes turned out, a la a ballet dancer (fewer folks stand with their toes turned it, but those need to be straightened too). Have your weight more in your heels than your toes. Un-tuck your pelvis, keep your ribs over your pelvis (often they are thrust forward) and reach the crown of the head up which drops your chin slightly. Make your standing situations dynamic by rolling your feet on a tennis ball, or having a rolled up towel available to calf stretch.
4. Move it
Don’t spend your entire day sitting. Take frequent breaks to walk around. Just going to the gym at the end of the day is not enough to undo the act of sitting for 8 hours. Try to get up every hour and walk for 5 minutes. Walk mindfully by standing well and carrying that into your walking. Aim for 10,000 steps a day.
5. Create Variety
Our bodies thrive on variety. When our joints are moved in a rainbow of configurations they are happy. Find ways of moving your body that are unique. Many can start with simple yoga poses that are likely new to them. Do poses that address your calves, hamstrings, hips, spinal area, shoulders and neck. These include (but are not limited to):
Reclining Big Toe Pose
Forward Bend and Forward Bend with toes raised on a rolled up towel or mat
Eagle Pose Arms
Cow Face Pose Arms
Lying over a bolster placed behind your Heart Center
If you are wanting to check out videos that will give you a variety of movement, visit my youtube channel The VocalYogi