I have always been a champion yawner. When I was a kid, I had a hard time remembering to cover my mouth when I yawned. Instead of constantly nagging me about it; my mother would look at me; and with a twinkle in her eye, she would say, Mammoth Cave.
Little did I know at the time, but there are 3 great reasons to give a mammoth cave yawn before you are giving a speech, going to a networking event, participating in a meeting, calling people on the phone, or even singing at an event.
- A nice big yawn releases the tension in your jaw. When we get nervous, we tend to clenth our teeth. Yawning counteracts that tension and gives the body a message to relax.
- A nice big yawn practically requires us to take a nice deep breath as well. When we get nervous, we also tend to start breathing more shallowly. Breathing deeply reduces tension and gives us another focus for our attention besides our nerves.
- A nice big yawn opens up the space in one’s mouth. Your mouth is an important resonating chamber for your voice. The more space there is inside, the more resonant your voice sounds.
Happy results of a Mammoth Cave Yawn:
- When you combine a relaxed jaw and breathing deeply to support the sound, your speaking and singing voice will improve exponentially.
- You will automatically sound more confident and authoritative when you are able to speak and sing with a relaxed and resonant tone in your voice.
- This type of yawn is another tool in your toolbox of strategies to deal with your nerves or fear of public speaking.
How to give a truly Mammoth Cave Yawn:
A mammoth cave yawn is not simply dropping your chin and breathing a little more deeply than usual for a second or two.
First, a mammoth cave yawn requires you to open up the back of your jaw (the hinge) where the real tension resides. That means getting the biggest possible stretch between the your back upper and lower teeth. When I do this, I even feel the stretch in my ears.
Second, hold your jaw open purposely and keep breathing deeply while you do so. Feeling that stretch as you breathe deeply is where the real relaxation of your jaw occurs.
If you get nervous before speaking or are unhappy with the sound of your voice, experiment with relaxing your jaw and breathing deeply just before you speak or sing. You may be pleasantly surprised with the results. Just remember to cover your mouth when you do. (HA!)