Being a great guitar player is more than just having a talent. You need determination, mental and physical strength, and a decent amount of flexibility in your hands and fingers. When you practice playing guitar on a regular basis, you develop this needed flexibility and strength. But at the same time, you also need that flexibility and strength because the riffs and technique become more advanced as you progress.
We’re reminded daily that it’s important to keep yourself fit mentally and physically, but is fitness really important for a guitar player? And how can practicing yoga make you a better guitar player? Here’s how...
A Great Way To Warm Up
When you play guitar, your fingers consciously work hard and stretch over the fretboard to produce quality sound. So it’s important to warm up the muscles in your hands, wrists, and arms properly to avoid injuries and get the most from your practice session.
Certain yoga exercises will help you to warm up before playing, which includes your whole body while focusing on your fingers.
Other exercises give you the opportunity to only focus on your hands and fingers for when your time is limited.
Try the following exercise to warm up your fingers and increase the flexibility:
Start by clenching your fists firmly with your thumbs outside of your fingers for at least a minute. As you keep it clenched, focus on the sensation you’re experiencing. How is it feeling?
Can you feel the energy moving through your hands? If you struggle to do this, imagine holding something special that you don’t want to let go.
After keeping your fists clenched for a minute, relax your hands. Open your palms and allow each finger to fully stretch open. Then start with your thumb and move each finger gently towards the middle of your palm; allowing each finger to spring back to its natural curled position.
Even though this may seem simple, your fingers will benefit greatly by warming up with this yoga exercise. So try repeating this exercise at least twice to reap all the benefits.
Teaches You Mind Over Matter
Studies have shown that the benefits of yoga aren’t only limited to the physical, but also includes your mental health.
As you practice yoga, it moves you from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system. In other words, your mindset is changed from the “flight-or-fight” response to rest-and-digest. This gives you time to think and react more positively to a situation.
Yoga also teaches you to breath more in a deep and controlled manner, which lowers your cortisol levels; calming your nervous system and mind. This will keep you mentally focused and receptive during long, repetitive practice sessions when you feel like giving up.
Helps Release Muscle Tension
Most guitar players sit leaning forward while they practice, which makes it easy to develop neck cramps and tension in your back after a while. And yoga is a great way of getting rid of those aches and pains, as well as improving your posture!
Yoga uses techniques to lengthen, stretch, and relax your muscles while teaching you to breathe in a deep and controlled manner.
Doing this then addresses the stress aspect and the physical side of muscle tension; reducing uncomfortable neck pain and backaches.
Do you know what this means? More play time to improve your awesome guitar playing skills.
Creates Muscle Awareness
Practicing yoga will help you create muscle awareness, as it teaches you to use your muscles effectively with the least amount of energy. So instead of putting all the strain on your fingers and hands, you learn how to involve every muscle group between your shoulder and fingers.
How you’re moving and using your body while you play have a big influence on how you’re playing your guitar. When you learn to use your muscles effectively, you can play more accurately and faster. In more artistic words, you become one with your guitar.
Improves Your Strength And Finger Flexibility
Playing guitar is physically demanding, so you need to be strong and fit to keep up with all the practice sessions and performances. And this makes yoga a great way of getting in better shape without risking big injuries.
Yoga focuses on exercising your whole body, including your fingers and arms, so all the muscles you need to play guitar is getting stronger. It also strengthens your core and helps sort out injuries or other weaknesses. And being able to hold those yoga poses will increase your flexibility and strengthen your muscles; meaning you can play harder and better for longer!
Don’t underestimate the power of yoga! Guitar players are musical athletes that need to stay fit and strong. And yoga is a great way to keep fit, is good for your body and mind, and fantastic for your playing.
About the Author: Joseph Evans
My name is Joseph Evans and I am a guitar playing, freelance writing, online teaching music lover based in Seattle, WA. Growing up in a musical family naturally lead to obtaining my Bachelor of Music (BM) in Composition & Music Theory degree, after which I taught and traveled my way across Europe for 7 years before returning back home to settle in beautiful Seattle. On a typical day, you would find me playing my guitar, pottering around in the vegetable garden, going on long hikes, reading and/or writing.