Fitness Friday Week 11: Legs Up The Wall Sequence Part 1

Here is the start of a 2 Part Sequence. Legs up the wall is my “go-to” for traveling, back and neck pain, and overwhelming stress, anxiety, and emotion. It is best to hold these poses longer than shown on this video. Holding each position for 5 minutes is like a trip to the spa. Set a timer and enjoy!

(Click on the blog title to view the video.)

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Fitness Friday Week 9: Happy Hips

Follow the directions on the video for a happier pelvis and better singing stance. 

(Click on the title to view the video.) 

Tuneful Tuesday/Thursday Week 31: The Saga of Jenny 

I’m posting my Tuneful Tuesday early this week in honor of my birthday—because all I really want to do for my birthday is sing. 
I’ve always loved the irony of this piece by Ira Gershwin and Kurt Weill; but I’ve never actually had the opportunity to sing it. I figured my birthday was a great opportunity to remember not to make your mind up about how your life is going to go. You never know what the world has in store for you. I never thought I’d be filling my days singing, teaching yoga, and running my own private vocal and piano studio; but I love the variety, intensity, and joy with which I live my life. Growing up, I made many plans. Some fell through; some were achieved; all helped me to evolve as a person. But, some of the best things in my life happened when I let go of my plans and just went where fate led me. As the character Tracy Lord says in The Philadelphia Story, “the time to make up your mind about people is never”… and that includes making up your mind about yourself.

(To see the video, click the blog title link at the top of the email.) 

Where Troubles Melt Like Lemondrops

Growing up I wanted to be Judy Garland. That voice. That style. That passion. Her voice and her stage presence were mesmerizing. I wanted her life so badly. I wanted to be a star. I wanted to be important. I wanted everyone to instantly hush when I opened my mouth. As I grew older, I realized the cost such vocal and charismatic gifts can take on your body, life, and psyche. Poor Judy’s personal life and health were at the mercy of her stardom. The exhaustion of constant performances, guest appearances, roles, and rehearsals literally broke her. Her debilitating struggle towards the illusive perfection, first in her voice and later in her body, forced her to waste away. Depression and anxiety plagued her and she lived in a never-ending state of fear and worry. 

During my college years, I followed in Judy’s footsteps. I spent hours upon hours in the practice rooms repeating note after note trying to force myself to “get it right” until I was hoarse. I ran from studying to class to practicing to work to the gym in an attempt to be everything and do everything. I spent countless nights sitting on the floor of the practice rooms or in my bed with tears falling down my cheeks because I wasn’t “good enough”. My health declined; I was constantly ill; and I always had a stomachache from my endless anxiety. And yet, I kept pushing. For many years, I lost the joy of singing. And still, I wanted to be a performer. I wanted to sing. I wanted to be adored and live a glamorous life. 

When yoga entered my life, it was a true game changer: not only for my body and mind but also for my voice. I learned not to push so hard and to just let myself be. I learned to find joy again in my life and in my voice. I learned to be at peace with where I am and not play the comparison game. I learned that my identity is more than just my voice and my worth is more than how many “likes” I can get on my YouTube videos. My life has changed drastically; but, I often find myself reverting back. There are moments when I feel that I’m not living up to my potential–that I should be performing, practicing, and doing more. I see the number of likes on other singers videos or recordings; I see the amazing performances and opportunities others are getting and that evil little guy jealousy rears his ugly head. In those moments, I have to breathe deeply and remember that fame is not everything. I am making a difference in my tiny, yet musical, town. I am living a life filled with music, yoga, singing, and teaching amazing students the power of this combination daily. My life is so much happier now that I’ve found a balance. Yes, I’d love to perform more and to find more opportunities; but, for now, easing off and giving myself space to “play” with my voice again and recreate that childlike joy is where I need to be. Judy Garland, I love you and you were an amazing singer, actress, and perfectionist; but, I wouldn’t trade lives with you. I’m doing a pretty good job being me, imperfectly. 

Tuneful Tuesday Week 26: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” 

Tuneful Tuesday Week 11: “Watch Duet” memorization dance party

In two days I leave to teach a Yoga For Singers courses and perform with the Redwoods Opera Workshop. It is such a blessing to learn from and be inspired by an amazing faculty and to work with such talented singers each summer. Unfortunately, the program always begins just a few days after my voice studio has its end of the year recital performance, so my own personal practice and memorization time is always severely limited…… that’s why this crazy dance party is absolutely necessary. 

I actually learned this technique from a yogi who was working on perfecting her dristi “focus” in balance postures. She would perform the poses while her friends ran around trying to distract her. The point is, if she could maintain her focus through that, she could handle anything. I started taking this idea into my own vocal practice when attempting to memorize quickly. I would stare at myself in the mirror acting as ridiculous as possible and constantly trying to distract myself. If I can keep the words in my head while dancing around the room, then those words are going to be seriously locked in there. It sounds nuts, but it works! It gets me out of “thinking” mode and into muscle memory mode, which is where the real memorization happens. Plus, it’s fun to dance around like no one is watching…. well, except you are watching. Ah well. Enjoy my ridiculousness and try it yourself. It’s fun! 

A big thank you to this video of the Watch Duet I found on YouTube to sing along with. In the middle the Rosalinda makes a few sounds which are interesting…… but that way you could hear how the two parts of the duet go together.

Perfection is Elusive

The beginning of any rehearsal process, be it a song, an aria, or a full-staged production, is bound the be fraught with mistakes. A flubbed line here, a missed entrance there, a unrecognized cue, a struggling tempo–these are the marks of a true rehearsal process. So often we berate ourselves for our imperfections. We wonder why we weren’t perfectly prepared from day 1. We wait with bated breath for that fateful day when a director or teacher will have no corrections or notes for us. They will instead beam at you and say “perfect” and you will be ready to perform after just one rehearsal. But, let’s face it, how boring would that be? If someone doesn’t have corrections for me, I ask for them. I fish for critiques until I get something I can work on. Frankly, no matter how strong your technique, acting skills, languages, and musical nuances are there is always room for improvement. Even the strongest, most established “stars” in any craft continue to practice, study, and strive for more. If they don’t, I fear for their longevity and creative growth. 

This yearn for the elusive perfection is what makes artists so fascinating, powerful, and world-changing; but it can also lead to devastation, self-loathing, and debilitating stress. If we don’t come to terms with the fact that perfection is an impossible goal, we lose sight of the journey and become obsessed with an end result that will never come. But if we shift our perspective and recognize that the goal is to constantly learn, grow, and improve upon ourselves, we can find joy along the way. Without looking towards an end result looming in the far off distance, we are freed to enjoy the process wherever it may take us and be pleasantly surprised by the benchmarks along the way. 

It’s not practice makes perfect. It’s practice makes possible. So get out there and expand your possibilities.  

#yogagivesbackchallenge day 22: peacock prep. This is one of those poses which I am still struggling to comprehend mentally, let alone physically. While my peacock is far from perfect, I accept where I am and revel in the fact that my wrists are opening, my arms are strengthening, and my core is growing. Sometimes we have to enjoy the journey and let go of the end result.