Throat Therapy

As Speech Pathologists, we are often looking to address difficulties of expression.  Expression is part physical or concrete in the anatomy of the oral, laryngeal, nasal and pharyngeal mechanisms, but it is also very abstract. For example, rapid naming shows us that although a person can say a word physically, the builded pressure of repetition impairs their ability to do what they have already demonstrated they can do.  In therapy, our first inclination is to address a breakdown in communication in a more concrete manner (i.e. oral motor exercises, worksheets) that foster concrete answers (% accuracy). The essence of successful therapy is in self correction and eventual generalization. Generalization in itself is the balance of the physical and cognitive because a patient, a person must be mindful of what they are doing to alter that behavior. Mindfulness is the fulcrum of yoga and it is the basic principle of executive functioning. 

I think a grounded but cerebral look at communication is healthy in doing our job, which is attempting to heal a breakdown that is a marriage of abstract and concrete. Yoga parallels that marriage by stating there must be space in the throat, physically and spiritually, for healing and mindfulness to occur. 

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Sanskrit Name: Vishuddha meaning “to purify”.

This chakra controls the throat and the neck, and the arms and the hands. It is associated with the brachial or cervical plexus.

Element: Ether, as the crossover between the physical world and the world of Spirit. On the physical level, it corresponds to deep space as the most subtle physical element. From the point of view of the Spiritual, it represents the matrix on which physical reality manifests.

  • Color: Bright, light blue
  • Musical Note: A
  • Healing Flower: Morning glory
  • Animal Totems: Hawk, whale, and hummingbird
  • Herb: Frankincense
  • Endocrine Gland: Thyroid Gland
  • Sense: Sense of Hearing

 

Feeding the Chakra

  • Liquids in general: water, fruit juices, herbal teas
  • Tart or tangy fruits: lemons, limes, grapefruit, kiwi
  • Other tree growing fruits: apples, pears, plums, peaches, apricots, etc.
  • Spices: salt, lemon grass

Gemstones and Flower Essences that stimulate, cleanse and energize the throat chakra

  • Gemstones – Chrysocola, Lapis, Blue Opal
  • Flower Essences – Cosmos, Trumpet Vine, Larch

Healing Exercises:

  • Shoulder stand
  • Singing, chanting

Now, below is a meditation activity I am not suggesting we do in therapy. I do, however, think there is something to be gained by doing open sound repetitions to relax the throat, integrating resonance to help with sensations. In children, an occupational therapist once told me that until the age of 7, they are simply experiencing the world by sensation. They are seeking sensory experiences (touch, sound, smell, taste, sight) and reacting to those sensory experiences. With this reflex in development, repetitions of resonance and open sounds can be enriching to their speech experience. Approaching correction by teaching them that what they are saying is “wrong” can be very damaging. For geriatrics, open sounds and resonance can relax the throat and possibly realign cerebral connections to the speech mechanism through repetition, imitation and chorus. I do not think there have been any studies on this, but I think it would be worth a look…

Throat Meditation
Sit in Easy pose with the hands in gyan mudra (index touching the thumbs). Straighten the spine, drop the shoulders and tuck the chin in slightly to create neck lock.
Chant “Humee Hum Brahm Hum” without using the tip of the tongue at all. Use only the root of the tongue to chant. Chant for 11 minutes.

Guru Dev, Master of Sat Nam Rasayan said that Yogi Bhajan instructed students to chant this in the original class without the tip of the tongue. You only want to chant with the root of the tongue, otherwise do not move the of the tongue at all! This will stimulate the throat and will cause your tongue to get a workout. I have to warn you that you will sound really funny chanting this without the tip of the tongue, but you will experience an amazing effect.

Yogi Bhajan taught this meditation with the recording of Humee Hum from Nirinjan Kaur (Musical Affirmation Vol 2).

– See more at: http://www.spiritvoyage.com/blog/index.php/kundalini-yoga-for-the-throat-chakra/#sthash.T7xTL6Mw.dpuf

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Speaking Yogini

I am an Speech Language Pathologist, and a fairly typical speech therapist at that. I am engrossed in details and organization, constantly analyzing communication abilities on and off the clock. Under my  belt, I have 1 year in private practice, 4 years in the schools, 1 year of travel therapy (pediatrics and geriatrics) and 1 1/2 years in geriatrics.  My ear is trained to hear a cough in a crowded dining room, a deviation in tongue placement upon introduction to someone new, vocal intensity, pitch breaks, stumbling to find words, a conversation about missed milestones and when I order a tonic at a crowded establishment, I sometimes finger-spell key words.

I went to school in Boone, NC and have since settled in Asheville, NC.  I have become engrossed in yoga, surrounded by some of the best Yoga teachers in the World (I dare say). I find myself referencing my experience in Speech to the lessons of Yoga, connecting universal teachings to micro and macro details of my profession. In this blog, I want to explore the connections we can make between the two.