Each year during the cold and snowy winters of the Midwest U.S., I miss being active outdoors. The last couple of years, to scratch that itch, I’ve started getting into yoga.
I chose yoga because it has so many health benefits — both physically and mentally — some of which are particularly useful to musicians. I have already noticed a degree of improvement in mindfulness and bodily awareness — both crucial skills for any musician.
In this post, I’d like to share a bit about my explorations of yoga over the past couple of years and about a few resources that have helped me learn.
Photo: Me, inspired to invent a new yoga pose during a trip earlier this year to the Joshua Tree National Park in California.
Let’s start with the practical: How do I fit yoga into my routine?
I like doing yoga in the evening, as a way to wind down before going to bed. Sometimes, I’ll also do a few stretches in the morning or at various points in the day when I feel I need it.
I’ve been using a wonderful app that I highly recommend: Yoga Studio (currently $3.99, and worth every penny!).
The app contains quite a variety of workouts to choose from: beginner, intermediate, advanced; 20 minutes, 40 minutes, 60 minutes.
Once you choose a workout, the app guides you through the poses using voice prompts and visuals.
I love being able to do yoga from home on my iPad Mini! Personally, I find that I’m much more likely to workout if I can do it from home. I’ve also benefitted from being able to take my iPad with me during out-of-town trips. I’ve been known to do yoga in my hotel room during conferences. :)
Despite being a complete newbie to yoga, over the past two years I feel I’ve been able to learn and make great progress using this app. Stretching and gently challenging my body feels great. I’m working on incorporating what I’m learning from yoga into my piano playing, too.
I’ve recently read a couple of books relating to yoga specifically for musicians. The first one is called Yoga For Singers, by Linda Lister. I am not a singer; however, this book is appropriate for any musician interested in yoga. The opening chapters offer introductory information about yoga and its benefits.
The middle chapters present a large selection of poses or “asanas”. Each asana is accompanied by a photograph and well-written description for executing the pose. Within the final chapters, the author offers a handful of “vinyasas” — series of poses — that target specific areas (such as spine stretchers, rib spreaders, or spine soothers) or may be appropriate backstage before a performance.
Throughout the book, musicians are quoted discussing about how yoga has impacted their well-being and musicianship. The writing is entertaining and pleasant to read. I highly recommend this book!
The second book is called Musician’s Yoga, by Mia Olson. This book is similar to Yoga For Singers: it presents information about yoga, various breathing techniques, and posture/alignment before presenting a variety of asanas. Instead of photographs, Musician’s Yoga contains line art illustrations, which I found to be less helpful towards understanding the more subtle aspects of executing the poses. The writing throughout the book, although certainly fine writing, was not as inviting or warm as in the previous book. Nevertheless, I found it tremendously helpful to read another yoga master’s perspective and description of the poses I have been attempting to master using the Yoga Studio app.
Now that it is getting warm outside once again, I’m transitioning from my yoga routine into a running routine. Wish me luck! :)
Please share in the comments: Have you experimented with yoga before? What benefits have you experienced?