Yoga vs. Singing…. the Yin and Yang of my Life

It has now been 2 months since I have re-entered the “real” world and left my happy, little yoga teacher-training bubble. It is amazing how the time flies, how new doors have opened, and how some pesky old habits have clawed their way back into my life as I diligently fight back with all of my might.  As my singing career begins to amp up again with auditions and competitions looming over the horizon, I find myself over-thinking, over-scheduling, and putting too much focus into creating the ever-illusive perfect performance. Worry begins to knock at my door and he brings his friends Fear, Anxiety, and Stress. I tell him to go away, but he forcibly breaks down the door and takes over. What’s a girl to do when this gang takes over your house?

You build a new house and let them keep the old one.

So, tonight I have decided to build myself that new house. A new way of thinking and approaching singing (picture the clouds parting as the rays of sunshine stream down and the Halleluiah Chorus plays in the background). What is is about yoga which puts me so at ease? What is it about singing which has, in the past, turned my body into a knot of tension and my mind into a jumble of self-loathing, fear, and doubt? How can I meld these two worlds to create a sort of “Zen and the Art of Singing”?

Yoga is the freedom to be who you truly are without any judgement or criticism. You fall out of a pose, you get back up and try again. You can’t do something, you take a variation of the posture. You laugh at your mistakes and move on.

Technically, all of these things can and should be applied to being a singer. But, often times, they are not. I should have the freedom to be the singer that I am right now, at this moment, without any judgement or criticism. But, on a daily basis we are being judged by anyone who hears us…. be it for the better or worse. We are judged by our teachers, by auditors, by audience members, by the maintenance staff, by people who hear about the performance 2nd hand, and worst yet, ourselves. If you constantly feed off of this cycle of praise and rejection, your life will be an exhausting roller coaster of ups and downs. It’s enough to make you want to get off the coaster and take a nice kiddy-ride, 9-5 desk job. But, if we can learn to sing, or do anything for that matter, as a meditative practice purely as a way to feed our souls, we will find that the criticism simply does not matter anymore. If they love us, great. If they don’t love us, well, then that’s great too. Just like falling out of a yoga pose, when you forget a word or make a pitch mistake, it is not the end of the world. This is not a matter of life and death. You simply pick up where you left off and move on. I used to be utterly devastated when I would forget a word. I became so consumed with fear of a memorization slip that I would race through my words in a blind panic before each concert. Then, of course, in my fluster I would forget a word which would make me even more panicked. Then my focus was gone, tension crept in, and the performance was never my best. Why anticipate future discomfort? Why worry about things which might not even come true? Things happen. We all have those days. You just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again. Laughing at your mistakes is something that I really need to pull from my yoga practice into my singing career. We all make mistakes. If we didn’t, how boring would our lives be? The other day in my private practice, I literally fell onto my face in bakasana, crow pose, a arm-balance posture which requires all of your weight to be balanced on your two hands. After falling to the floor, I simply burst out laughing at my face-plant. Conversely, in my singing life, I have never laughed at my mistakes. Usually I berate myself within an inch of my life, then head straight for the practice room to practice until I can do it right at least a thousand times consecutively. Now, really, in the grand scheme of things, which mistake is more life or death here? I would have to say the one where all of my body weight is being sustained by your wrists and your head is dangling dangerously close to the floor. You can break your wrists, break your nose, tweak your elbow, and hurt your shoulder in bakasana if done incorrectly. If I forget my words during a song, it is highly unlikely that a part of my body will be broken, hurt, or harmed. Perspective. It’s a beautiful thing.

So, my new house is built. I just have to remember to pick up some change of address labels the next time I am at the post office because I don’t want to have to bother Worry, Fear, Anxiety, or Stress for my mail.

 

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