Ever since I started at Trinity Laban, my teacher had been saying to me how good yoga is for you, and how it’ll improve strength and relaxation of the muscles when playing. I ignored her for about 2 years (using various excuses every time she asked) and then just before last Christmas I started. The main reason for this was that my right shoulder was (note the past tense……!) giving me grief and no amount of thinking about relaxing while playing was helping. It kept half popping out, was painful most of the time and was starting to hinder the amount of time I was able to play for. I decided that I needed to try something, so I and started yoga.
I didn’t have a yoga mat when I first decided to start, and as my flat has no carpets I just did a few simple routines on a towel. Not ideal, but better than nothing. Since I got a yoga mat for my birthday in January however, I’ve been doing at least a 20 minute practice every day.
Being a student, I can’t afford £10 per yoga class, especially as I’d like to go more than once a week. So I decided to look on YouTube for yoga teachers, and after a bit of searching and trying out routines I’ve found a woman called Adriene who I really like. Her channel ‘Yoga with Adriene’ has all sorts of types of routines of different lengths, all geared towards various goals, so you can choose exactly what you want to focus on for that days practice. What I especially like about her though is that she encourages you to ‘find what feels right’ and not to just try and copy exactly what she does if it’s not going to be beneficial to your body. She also gives lots of options for some of the harder poses, meaning that just because you find something difficult at that particular time, it doesn’t mean you have to sit out the practice.
I have been completely converted to the power of yoga. I find that waking up in the morning and getting straight onto the mat really sets me off on the right foot for the day and gets my body moving, meaning that by the time I go to practice the violin, I’m already pretty warmed up. Through learning the different poses I’ve also been able to incorporate some of those into my stretches before practicing violin (I’m going to do a blog on that soon), and they really help to open up my shoulders before I have to stand in an awkward and unbalanced position for the rest of the day.
Although it takes a while (as with anything in life) to get into the habit of getting onto the mat every day it’s completely worth it. Going back to poses that I couldn’t do two weeks ago, but now can, gives me such a sense of achievement (like being able to touch my toes. Anyone who knows me, will not have failed to notice that my legs are stupidly long and so I’ve never been able to touch my toes. I’m so proud of myself that I can now!). It’s another way of expressing myself (like this blog) that’s not playing the violin, and through that I find it very rewarding. I’d totally recommend giving it a go, and you’ll be surprised with what you find you can do!