Week 9: Importance of Yoga for Performing Artists
While yoga can be defined in many ways, it is important to realize that yoga is not just for the physical body to stretch or exercise. It is a discipline that will allow the seekers, irrespective of their faith or no faith to attain a sense of spirituality.
Yoga will help you on a physical level as well, but it will equally bring a greater understanding and awareness of the self. This way we can bring authenticity into our art.
Being a singer is not only about training and using the vocal cords. It is about maintaining and opening the full body to allow the energy to keep flowing. The most crucial aspect to singing is breath. Practicing full and deep breaths to keep the airflow clear will create a strong foundation for good singing. By practicing selected breathing techniques that are found in yoga, singers can have good control over their lungs and also treat any vocal problems they may face, such as raspy or hoarse voice, strained throat, coughing, or nasal problems. Apart from breath, the body is also definitely a tool that is used by singers. Through the practice of yoga, singers will be able to maintain good posture to allow for freedom in the upper part of the body, while also developing strength in the lower part, along with a strong core and pelvic floor muscles to maintain control over the voice.
- Marjaryasana & Bitilasana / Cat & Cow: nourishes the spine for better posture
- Ardha Uttanasana / Halfway Lift: releases shoulder tension for a relaxed neck/throat
- Kapotasana / Pigeon pose: opens up the body and flow of air
Actors, on the other hand, need to focus on clearing their minds to prepare the body for their work. Yoga can be used to develop the ability to focus and concentrate. It will relax and center the body and mind which is crucial for acting. Don Williams, a yoga practitioner who is an actor/director in the San Francisco Bay Area says, “Yoga offers a way of opening up our physical and emotional beings. Tension can block emotional and artistic impulses. Yoga helps release them.”
Since actors work with all realms of performing arts, opening up their body facilities can allow them to use it to their benefit in creation and performance.
- Prasarita Balasana/ Extended child's pose: Calms nervous system
- Vrikshasana / Tree Pose: Builds focus and concentration
- Jathara Parivartanasana/ Spine Twist: Neutralises the body
Especially in India, yoga has been intertwined with dance for centuries. “Yoga is like a dance, you are aware, the body, breath, and mind are united: it’s like a slow motion, moving from one pose to another”, says Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
As a dancer, there is a possibility of overusing the body, making it prone to injuries and mental breakdowns. Practicing yoga asanas will help in the execution of challenging movements and sequences. In addition, incorporating breath into the movements will build stamina to keep moving for hours. This way, the body can be healthy and the mind can stay calm.
Yoga before dancing will keep the joints flexible and strengthen the muscles to move according to your potential.
- Adho Mukha Svanasana / Downward facing Dog pose : strength throughout the body
- Trikonasana / Triangle pose : relieves dancers of stress and back pain
- Utkatasana / Chair pose : find balance
Finally, if yoga is practiced with awareness, each dancer will be able to keep their creative channels open and their confidence levels high!