Yoga for Musicians – Part 3: Yoga Exercises for Musicians
In the previous two weeks’ posts, we looked at how yoga is relevant to you as a musician. This week and next, I will guide you through exercises from my practice called YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine. You can do them anywhere to keep you fit in body, mind and spirit. But first, a couple of things:
Keep the Body-Instrument in the Tune of Health
Hatha yoga helps your body-instrument stay in the tune of health. When you practice, be aware of your spine. Think of the spine like a flute, through which vital life-force flows. We don’t want to force our sound or damage our instrument. We learn to allow the music of life to flow us.
The spine is also like a piano. Each key on a piano must be in tune to make good music. Similarly, when one of our vertebrae is out, we know it through pain and discomfort.
String players know that a string must be neither too tight nor too slack. The spine is like a string instrument tuned in perfect resonance, for optimal musicality.
Before You Start
It is best to practice yoga on an empty stomach. When you do a little light stretching, this does not matter as much, but it is good to keep in mind.
Yoga is not competitive. There is no need to push or pull at the exercises. Do 80% your maximum so there is lot of room to breathe.
Go slowly so you can keep in touch with what you feel and what is going on in your body. Before you can move quickly, you must first master the poses at a slower speed.
Most importantly, have fun. A slight smile relaxes your entire body.
Lying Down: Support and Rejuvenation
There are two zero points in yoga. One is horizontal, the other vertical. These are the foundations upon which all poses are built, and points of reference we can consider as we move through more complex physical sequences. Whenever you may be, you can practice these to help you manage nerves, center and deliver your best. They help you find your sense of worth that comes from your unique connection to life-force energy.
The horizontal zero point is Savasana (Corpse Pose). Let’s give it a try:
- Lie on your back, feet one foot apart and arms alongside the body.
- Breathe. Allow yourself to settle and feel supported by the ground, letting yourself open to your breath and meet this moment as it is.
- Allow your mind to settle.
- Scan your body. Where do you hold tension or feel relaxed?
- Allow your breath to deepen and your body and mind to relax.
- Breathe in and draw energy down your spine through the crown of your head.
- Breath out. Allow that energy to fill up every cell of your being. Continue breathing in and out, going deeper into relaxation without falling asleep.
A ten-minute deep relaxation is like hours of sleep. You can do this before or after any show, or if you are in the middle of a stressful day. It is excellent for rejuvenation and centering.