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.) 

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) 

Fitness Friday Week 2: Lengthening and Strengthening

This week we’ll be doing a short core session on the floor. Oftentimes, when we think of working the core our minds instantly picture sit-ups and crunches. Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to properly do a crunch or sit-up and end up putting unnecessary stress on their shoulders and necks in the process. Luckily, this sequence focuses on keeping the head and shoulders down and the lower back lengthened while strengthening the abdominal wall, specifically the rectus abdominis: the front loaf-shaped abdominal muscle. It is important that this muscle is both strong and flexible for singers to have the breath support they need for their best sound. 

While completing this series, attempt to feel the entire length of your spine from the base of your skull to your tailbone sink towards the floor. Feel yourself shortening the distance between the front of your hip bones to the bottom of your ribcage. This will help you to isolate the actions in your core and not bring tension or stress into your neck and shoulders. If you do start to feel that your shoulders are straining, don’t try to bring your knees so close to your body and when you are doing the straight leg lift, bend your knees more. ​

​As always, if you have any questions or any requests for future videos, please let me know. If you’re on Instagram, tag me with @Yoga_For_Singers and share your progress.

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.

The Power of Yet

As both a vocal instructor and a yoga instructor, I hear “I can’t do it” on a daily basis. The excuses run the gamut: from “I’m not flexible enough” to “I’m not strong enough” to “my allergies are affecting me today” to “I’ll never have those high notes” to “I can’t lose weight.” Henry Ford once say “Whether you think you can or think you can’t–you’re right.” I see this being played out on a daily basis in my own life as well as my students’ lives.
During my undergraduate studies, one of the teachers made a comment that my voice couldn’t possibly be so dark and large because I was petite physically. This statement buried deep into my psyche to the degree that I began to falsify my voice trying to make it lighter and more delicate to “match” my body type. The lack of support and physical tension needed to create this major modification tied me into knots as I kept telling myself I couldn’t possibly have a naturally dark and deep singing voice. It took years of mental and physical work to break me of this ideology and, to be honest, as my voice continues to become larger and darker, I still hear that little voice inside my head saying “you can’t possibly be a dramatic soprano. You’re 5’2″!” It’s remarkable what can go wrong and how much you can set yourself back when you tell yourself you can’t.
When I attended my yoga teacher training, the director of the program, Jennifer Yarro, opened my eyes to how often we all use those fateful words “I can’t.” These two words carry so much power. Thankfully, rather than try to instantly change my habitual way of thinking, she offered me one suggestion… Add the word “yet” to “I can’t” and suddenly it is not a terminal sentence. I can’t get into a free handstand on the floor yet, but I can go into a handstand at the wall. I can’t sing this coloratura line at this tempo yet, but I can work on it slowly and methodically at a snail’s pace. “Yet” is now one of my favorite words. You are still being realistic. You aren’t trying to go from having no vocal ability to singing at the Met in a week. You aren’t trying to go from being a couch potato to running a marathon in a day. You are still assessing your strengths and weaknesses; but, you are not saying that you will never succeed in what you cannot do this instant. You are giving yourself the opportunity to aspire for something greater and take steps towards producing that goal. This is just another way you can keep yourself from being locked into a mental box. We all form these ideas and images of who we are and what we can and cannot achieve. But maybe who you are today is not who you will be a week from now. Maybe what you look like today will be different than a year from now. Maybe your ability today will be different a month from now. Life changes, bodies change, physiques change: shouldn’t we keep the possibility open that these changes could occur for the better? Why force yourself to stay in one place and not take steps towards empowerment just because of those two stupid words: “I can’t”?
Maybe it’s too early to say “I can.” But it’s never too early to say “I can’t yet.”

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#bestrongin2015 challenge day 3: Uttplutith, flying lotus. Today I make steps towards this flying posture with a little help from my language dictionaries in the vocal studio. Each day is a new day to make progress and move towards our goals: one step at a time. There is no “I can’t.” There is only “I can’t do the full pose yet, but I can do part of the pose.”

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