Fitness Friday Week 7: Strap Shoulder Work

Continuing with our theme of shoulder tension release, I offer you this short and sweet strap sequence. If you do not have a yoga strap, a simple belt or thick piece of ribbon or rope will work fine. To begin, take a strap into both hands and bring your arms up in a wide “V”. Then take your right arm alongside your head while keeping the arm straight and swing your left arm back as far as possible, keeping your shoulders down. Feel the scapula/shoulder blades pull towards one another, keeping your chest wide and open. Then repeat on the other side. 
Next, return to the “V” shape and lean your torso to the left, taking several deep breaths into your side waist to expand your ribcage and open up your side body. Repeat on the right side. 

Hold each pose for 5-10 deep breaths.

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

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Fitness Friday Week 6: Shoulder Stretch at the Wall 

This is a yummy shoulder stretch which can easily be done in a practice room or hotel room. All you need is an empty wall. 

Start facing the wall and extend your left straight up towards the ceiling. Then, keeping your left arm straight, move it slowly in a counterclockwise motion as far as it can go (heading towards 9 o’clock.) For increases intensity, start to rotate your feet away from the wall towards the right hand side without moving your shoulder away from the wall. Hold for several breaths then come out of the pose by turning your body towards the wall before moving your left arm away from the wall. To repeat on the other side, bring your right arm up the wall and then move in a clockwise motion towards 3 o’clock. 

Feel free to send any questions you may have!

(Click the link to the blog post at the top of the page 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.) 

Fitness Friday Week 5: Practice Room Backbend

I love this deep heart opener. It is perfect for travel, before a performance or audition, or during a practice session when you’re just feeling tense and stuck vocally. Let me know if you have any questions!

(Click on the blog post title to access the video) 

Tuneful Tuesday Week 29: Part of Your World

This weekend I am heading on my annual pilgrimage to Disneyland to celebrate my birthday. The Little Mermaid was the first Disney movie I saw in theaters. I was only a few years old when it came out and it was such a big deal to sit in a large theatre, in my own big-girl chair, and find myself carried away by the story on the big screen. When The Little Mermaid came out on VHS, I watched the movie so many times that we wore out the tape. I would run around the house singing “Part of Your World” over and over again until my mom got sick of it. Hopefully she won’t get sick of this version. 😉

Tuneful Tuesday Week 28: Goodnight, My Someone

The music man was one of the first community theatre productions I was ever a part of. This song always makes me nostalgic as I look back on how much my life and voice have changed since I was a little 10-year-old running around on stage with jazz hands and rosy cheeks.

(Click the title of the blog post to see video link)

Jai Ganesh

Yogic chanting is a profound and sacred act. It is a chance for me to let go of the need to perform–the need to prove myself vocally–and to just enjoy the bliss of letting loose my soul through song. 

During my Junior year at USC, my artist roommate dragged me along to her yoga studio in Hollywood in the hopes of alleviating my vocal stress-induced anxiety attacks. At the end of that first candlelight evening yoga class, we were asked to join our voices in the sound of an OM. I opened my mouth, inhaled, and let out a sound that reverberated around room and shook me to my core. I honestly did not know that I could produce such a sound. It was such a change from the thin and strangled sound that I was producing in my voice lessons. Free from tension, free from the need to “try,” my voice bellowed like an uncaged beast. As all the other voices in the class faded away, my own continued on as I could not stop the amazing sensation of freedom in my voice. As my breath finally ran out, two giant tears rolled down my cheeks. I felt such gratitude for this brief glimpse into vocal and physical freedom. Though, at that time, I was unable to replicate this freedom in the practice room or in my lessons due to my uncontrollable perfectionism, I knew that freedom was possible and that yoga studio became my sanctuary from the stresses of a vocal arts degree. 

Years later during my immersive yoga teacher training program at Frog Lotus Yoga, I rekindled my love affair with yogic chant. After our daily meditation sessions, we would join together to sing a chant, taught by the head instructor. It was 6AM and there we were croaking through the daily chant, many of my fellow yogis very out of tune. Even with the pitchy singing and early morning voices, there was so much joy in our chants. We felt connected, free, and easy. We sang love. I created a special kinship to this particular chant “Jai Ganesh” as it praises the remover of obstacles who often puts obstacles in our path to force us to make changes in our lives. This reminds us that every hardship is a blessing which we can learn and grow from. By reframing our major life challenges (failed auditions, memory slips, vocal troubles, and the like) as opportunities to learn and make changes, we lessen the toll such experiences have on our psyche. Everything happens for a reason, but it is up to each of us to find that reason and learn from it. 

Tuneful Tuesday Week 27: Jai Ganesh