Yoga may have been seen as an activity only done by hippies in the past, but studies have proven it to be more than that. Yoga increases your muscle strength, improves your athletic performance, as well as your cardio and circulatory health. The benefits of yoga don’t only stop at an athletic quakity. You can also take your performance to the next level as a musician. Practicing yoga can help improve your endurance, helping you reach a higher level of performance.
Still not convinced of why musicians need yoga? Take a look at these benefits.
Do you remember how your mom always reminded you to sit up straight and stop slouching? She probably told you that you would look and feel better if you worked on your posture, right? And as much as that may have annoyed you, she wasn’t wrong.
Not only do singers benefit from standing in the correct singing posture, but all musicians who learn the correct posture will progress faster.
Practicing yoga will help you become more aware of how you portray yourself physically as you work on improving your posture. Proper posture keeps your bones and joints in the correct alignment, so that you use your muscles properly, as well as contribute to a good appearance. In other words, you’re using your muscles more efficiently while looking confident.
When using your muscles more efficiently, you’re allowing your body to use less energy. This helps you from getting too tired too quickly and prevents unnecessary strain on your body– which will help a lot during those long performances.
Develops Breath Awareness
Until you start doing yoga, you may not have paid a lot of attention to your breathing. But for a musician, effective breathing is essential. You need to be aware of where it originates and how it moves through you in order to determine whether it’s helping or hindering your performance. Is it relaxing, energizing, or making you tense?
When you’re tensed, you’re most likely to first hold your breath and then take fast, shallow breaths.
This way of breathing limits your supply of oxygen to the hardworking muscles while making music - negatively influencing your strength and endurance.
Yoga teaches you the powerful influence your breathing has on your body and mind.
It teaches you to focus on breathing in a controlled and deep manner, which improves the oxygen supply to your muscles and opens your breathing space (the rib cage and abdomen).
This results in less fatigue, a steadier blood flow, and a calmer mind.
Reduces Performance Anxiety
Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines physical poses, controlled breathing, and relaxation. And when you’re stressed, climbing on a yoga mat might not be your first move, but it might be your smartest.
Studies have shown that deep breathing slows down your sympathetic nervous system. This means that when you take deep breaths, it lowers the levels of stress hormones known as cortisol.
As your cortisol levels drop, you become more relaxed and the oxygen supply to your brain increases. Oxygen is the fuel for your brain to resolve problems and function at its optimum level. This results in you experiencing less anxiety. Handling stressful situations become easier as you feel more relaxed with a more positive attitude.
Practicing yoga has also shown to combat stress levels in the long run, as it encourages you to be aware and mindful towards your surroundings and peers. Not to mention how it benefits you in relieving the stress of physical activities through its non-impact moves.
Creates Body Awareness
How you’re moving and using your body is important as a musician. It influences the way you sing, dance, and play your instrument. And having control over how you use your body can greatly add to your success.
In essence, yoga creates a mind-body awareness and teaches you where your weaknesses are within your body. Yoga poses have been developed in such a way that it teaches you to use your muscles how they were intended to be used. Instead of putting all the strain on one group of muscles, you’re teaching your body’s muscles and ligaments to work together.
When your body works effectively and efficiently, it will carry the strain of performing and prevent early fatigue
A musician’s life is physically and mentally demanding with long practice sessions and the pressure of a performance. And when it comes to endurance, yoga benefits you on a mental, physical, and emotional level.
At the end of a long practice session or performance, you're depleted of fuel. This is when your mind needs to keep going.
So, when you feel like you can’t do another scale or play that guitar riff, you can use meditative techniques to push those negative thoughts aside and get the job done.
Musicians that have done this for a while already know about developing an inward, mindful state of being, which is also known as being “in the zone”. Staying aware of your breathing and body keeps you going and in touch with the music.
Yoga not only helps with your physical endurance and strength. And it isn’t just about stretching, but also about strengthening your core. When you hold a yoga pose for a long time – especially those core-trembling poses – it strengthens your muscles and builds your confidence while becoming fitter.
At the end of the day, you need to remember that your mind and body are connected. The practice of simply holding a pose teaches you that you are stronger and better than you think. And being aware of this can make you a better musician. Yoga teaches you discipline and commitment –the two ingredients of becoming a successful musician.
About the Author: Helen Baker
I am a freelance teacher and writer based in Ann Arbor, MI. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Music, I spent some time teaching English in Paris and, thereafter, returned to Ann Arbor where I was involved both in the media and academics. Currently I am a stay at home mom, working as a freelance writer and teacher. I love all my guitars and I also have an affinity towards old grand pianos. I love singing, traveling, reading, writing, watching films and spending quality time with my husband.