Happy Healthy YOU

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Kelly Spencer - Happy Healthy YOU

(A wellness column by Kelly Spencer: writer, life coach, yoga & meditation teacher, holistic healer and a mindful life enthusiast!)

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la. When I am in my car and my favorite song comes on, I am quite sure that if I tried out for a singing contest, I would win.

Yes, this is delusional, but there is something that just feels so powerful and feel-good about singing along to your favorites whether you are off key or not. I feel like a superstar.

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“Singing is a way of escaping. It's another world. I'm no longer on earth.” - Edith Piaf, French cabaret singer, songwriter, and actress.

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I remember having this out of world feeling. My daughter and I were at an Aerosmith concert. From beneath the stage floor, Steven Tyler emerges sitting on a bench in front of a white grand piano. Joe Perry makes his way towards the piano playing the guitar like only he can. The song Dream On initiated. After watching in awe, I realized I was singing along with about 10,000 other fans. Hearing a group of that size, all singing as if they were on stage too, was magical and unearthly.

When I teach toddler or kids yoga, a lot of the teaching we do is through song. The kids love singing it and they seem to remember and connect to the words being sung in a way that is more powerful than the plainly-spoken world. It seems to light them up, even if our singing voices are not award winning.

Okay, so I will keep my day job but there is something so dang good about singing and as it turns out, there is good reasons why. Science has confirmed... singing is good for you.

Stacy Horn from Time notes the elevatory mood brought on by singing: "The elation may come from endorphins, a hormone released by singing, which is associated with feelings of pleasure. Or it might be from oxytocin, another hormone released during singing, which has been found to alleviate anxiety and stress. Oxytocin also enhances feelings of trust and bonding, which may explain why still more studies have found that singing lessens feelings of depression and loneliness."

Patricia Casey of Independent, notes a number of studies that celebrate the healthy power of singing. "One study found that a choir singing Mozart's Requiem released an immunoglobulin s-IgA that assists our immune defences, while others have shown that choir music reduces cortisol, one of the markers of stress in the body."

A hypothesis proposed by Dr Björn Vickhoff, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, stated that song is a form of regular, controlled breathing, since breathing out occurs on the song phrases and inhaling takes place between these. Deeper controlled breathing assists us to increase lung capacity and increase oxygen flow.

Professor Graham Welch, chair of Music Education at the Institute of Education, University of London, has studied developmental and medical aspects of singing for 30 years and he says the health benefits of singing are both physical and psychological.

“Singing has physical benefits because it is an aerobic activity that increases oxygenation in the blood stream and exercises major muscle groups in the upper body, even when sitting. Singing has psychological benefits because of its normally positive effect in reducing stress levels through the action of the endocrine system which is linked to our sense of emotional well-being. Psychological benefits are also evident when people sing together as well as alone because of the increased sense of community, belonging and shared endeavour."

We know that stress can be the root cause of many physical and emotional disturbances and with persistent scenarios of stress it can even create harm or worse to our well-being.

Singing can remedy and bring relief to many areas of stress or unease. Here is an incomplete, short list of many benefits that you can receive by simply opening the wind wipes and hitting the notes of the melody of your choice.

1. Lower stress levels. Cortisol hormone elevates when we become stressed which is why it is often called the “stress hormone”. Cortisone levels reduce, and muscles relax when we destress through singing regularly.

2. Heart. Research shows that singing improves heart rate visibility, which reduces the risk of heart disease.

3. Lungs. You’ll work out your lungs, improve your circulation, and tone your abdominal and intercostal muscles.

4. Fight infection. According to research conducted at the University of Frankfurt, singing boosts the immune system.

5. Spine and Back. As your chest cavity expands and your shoulders and back align, you’re improving your posture overall.

6. Sleep. According to a health article in Daily Mail Online, experts believe singing can help strengthen throat and palate muscles, which helps stop snoring and sleep apnea. Along with less stress, sleep patterns can improve.

7. Happy. Singing is known to release endorphins, the feel-good brain chemical that makes you feel uplifted. In addition, scientists have identified a tiny organ in the ear called the sacculus, which responds to the frequencies created by singing. The response creates an immediate sense of pleasure, regardless of what the singing sounds like. Not only that, but singing can simply take your mind off the day’s troubles to boost your mood.

8. Raise your vibe. Singing is an act of vibration. Sound vibrations from vocal cords resonate in the sinus cavity, lighting up the brain with the processing of the mathematics of music. Energetically opening the chakras (energy systems within the body) especially the heart chakra.

Join a choir.

Do Karaoke.

Belt it out in your car.

Hum throughout your day.

Chant during meditation.

Or, better yet for this time of year... Gather some friends and family and go door-to-door carolling and get your Fa-la-la-la-la going, creating a happier and healthier you, through the act of crooning.

(If you would like to see an article on a specific topic, please email kelly@indigolounge.ca). 

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