While Teaching: The Sonic Components of Voice

Summary of Teaching Techniques

Here are some ways you might optimize your voice while teaching.

  1. Remember that being present and “embodied” are critical to your ability to have an authentic and effective voice.
  2. Have pauses in your delivery to allow students time to work with the teachings and to listen inwardly. Incessant talking won’t allow students time to work with their own inner teacher and may lessen the impact of what you say.
  3. Be mindful of your cadence and rhythm. Avoid sounding sing-songy or as if you are in a trance. (See also: avoiding yoga-speak.)
  4. Moderate your volume for the acoustics of the room and needs of students.

Presence & Embodiment

To come back to center during class, pause and take a conscious breath.

Newer teachers may wish to plan for particular triggers to ensure they are reminded to pause, such as at certain points in their notes or as part of teaching holds or during vinyasa or meditation, or when the background music gets to a certain point, etc.

The following resources are designed for teaching these topics as themes but they are also chock-full of inspiration that you can use for yourself:


A powerful tool at the yoga teacher’s disposal is the pause.

You may wish to consider how often and when you wish to leave space for students to work with the teachings and have their personal experience.

While we could include this within “cadence and rhythm” we are calling it out here because it’s so important and can be such a challenge to execute.

Remember to pause and leave space.

Cadence, Rhythm & The Yoga Voice

Individual teachers may have a style that is humorous, analytical, mechanically precise, playful, meditative, or other. We propose that the world needs them all and that there is no right way to use voice, that techniques will naturally vary by person. But we do believe that most teachers, particularly those in their first few years of teaching, can benefit by occasionally checking in with themselves.

Be Conscious About Voice

You may wish to listen to a particular person whose rhythm you admire and consider why. You may also consider recording yourself to listen to and/or to invite feedback from colleagues or others.

Avoid the “Yoga Voice”

  • Perhaps you have had the experience of relaxing more completely in a yoga class due in part to the comforting cadence and rhythm of the teacher’s voice. This is a wonderful thing!
  • And it may also be the reason behind the over-done “yoga voice” that teachers may inadvertently fall into. As noted in the quote below, a desirable teaching voice doesn’t require sounding like one is in a trance or being too soft.
  • Speaking at a conversational rate and inserting more pauses may be a tactic to meet the desired rhythm. Find the optimum balance for you.
Allow Your Voice To Carry Energy

Your voice is one medium for transmitting an energy vibration for your students to connect with so allow your voice to carry the energy of your compassionate and loving heart. That doesn’t mean sounding like you’re in a trance, though, nor does it mean forcing people to strain to catch your words. Consider the proper balance, especially if you have older students in the room, a large class or poor acoustics. – Sue Flamm (Puja)

Mirror Cadence to Class Progression

Another consideration can be to mirror your cadence to the progression of class, having slight shifts in voice rhythm during warm up, heat building, peak, cool down and finishing segments of class.


  • Moderate the volume of your voice for the acoustics of different spaces, and for the needs of different students.
  • You may wish to check-in to be sure you can be heard in the back of the room.
  • Be mindful if you find yourself having to speak over music.