Any reliable program of voice exercise will address tension, and there tend to be three main areas of tension in the body. One is the lower back, and everyone is familiar with lower back tension. Another is the shoulders and neck, and everyone is familiar with that type of tension. A third area is the jaw and tongue and not many people are aware of jaw and tongue tension. So you should have at least one voice exercise for your tongue. Tongue tension is a huge obstacle to your voice, and it’s very prevalent. Virtually every person that walks into my office is dealing with some level of tongue tension and most don’t even know it. Tongue tension can make your voice weak, constricted and easily tired. It can make your voice sound high or even nasal. Not to mention making your more prone to mumbling. So here is one voice exercise for your tongue. Keep in mind your tongue is a fairly large muscle. It’s not just this part, that’s just the front of your tongue, what you call the “blade” of the tongue. Your tongue muscle goes all the way down to a point just above your larynx, so all this is tongue muscle. If you’re going to relax your tongue you need to stretch not just the blade of the tongue, but the root of your tongue as well. Always do this voice exercise with a mirror. Anchor the tip of your tongue behind your lower front teeth and keep it there. Then roll the rest of your tongue as far forward as possible, like a big, cresting wave. The tip of your tongue should stay behind your lower front teeth. The middle of your tongue should be outside your lips. You want to feel that stretch all the way down into your throat. Hold this stretch for about ten seconds, then allow your tongue to relax back into your mouth and notice the difference you feel. Now roll your tongue forward again, and this time, make sure your breath continues to flow in and out of your belly. After 10 seconds, allow your tongue to relax. Did you catch yourself holding your breath or breathing in a tense and shallow manner? Did you notice your tongue wanting to sneak back into your mouth when you focused on your breathing? Watch the mirror and don’t let that happen. Keep your tongue stretched out as far as possible the whole time. Since this is a voice exercise, add sound to the stretch. Remember to breathe into your belly, then let go of the sound with the feeling of relief. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. You might feel your tongue wanting to go back into your mouth when you release sound. Ahhhhhhhhh. Do not allow it. Keep your tongue stretched forward until the sound ends. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. You might notice your voice feels more open. It might feel stronger or deeper. These are all natural benefits of getting your tongue out of the way as it relates to your voice. Of course you can’t give a presentation with your tongue stretching out of your mouth. Not only would it be impossible to speak, it would make you look crazy. This is for practice. This voice exercise reinforces the feeling of a relaxed tongue and an open vocal passage. Over time your tongue becomes free for the production of vowels and consonants, words and sentences without tensing up and blocking your voice every time you make a sound. A good program of voice exercise isn’t just about the sounds you make. It must address those sneaky areas of tension that end up blocking, distorting, and limiting your voice. Tongue relaxation will make your voice stronger, richer, and more powerfully expressive. For more information about vocal development and three more examples of voice exercise, visit voiceandspeech.com and download the free report and video series The Sound of Success.