Tuning Your Instrument: Yoga for Musicians

Kodi Vonn

“I have scoliosis and the weight of the guitar has made my back grow in this curvature. So it gives me a back pain all the time.”

—Kurt Cobain

For many musicians, hunching themselves over a guitar, notebook or a laptop for long hours practicing, writing or mixing is a natural part of the day. However, this is not a natural position for the human body and most will feel just how unnatural it is as they stand and stretch.

Your back creaks, your joints ache and your head hurts. So you twist, turn and crack your knuckles before getting right back into an uncomfortable, yet focused, posture.

guitar

This is where a little yoga, and even meditation, can go a long way to benefiting you as an artist.

Most artists credit the creation of their music to something that comes from within—an internal force influenced by the surrounding world. The same can be said of bodily pain and both can be nurtured by the practice of yoga.

“As conduits, musicians must transmit this godly information into the physical world through the training of their bodies.”

—Daniel Overberger, “Yoga for Musicians” via LAYoga.com

Yoga consists of stretching, holding poses that strengthen muscles, and the practice of controlled breathing techniques. Stronger muscles can perform better for longer periods of time. DJ’s and musicians standing and moving around onstage won’t tire as fast and will feel better after their set ends through the practice of yoga. They’re also less likely to suffer injuries or chronic joint pain.

Additionally, controlling one’s breath is an essential tool for singers. If you want to bust out those high notes or hold one for extended periods, you’ll need a strong diaphragm. Muscles need oxygen to keep working without getting tired or achey. Taking some time to focus on your breath yields definite results in your ability to sing, rap or do any physical activity music requires.

The meditation that comes with practicing yoga is also a great tool for relieving tension in the body, stress of the mind, and all-over anxiety. Touring, recording and forcing yourself to create new work can be chaotic for the mind and body. Even taking thirty minutes to center yourself through some simple stretches and focusing on the pace of your breath can alleviate pain and nervousness.

If you’ve never tried yoga, start with a few, simple poses and focus on your breathing.

Stand tall with your arms to your side, chest out and back straight. Breathe in through your nose while counting to five, then breathe out counting down. Do the same with your arms straight above your head, reaching to the ceiling. Bend in half, arms out in front of you and breathe again. Touch your toes (or try to) and let your mind wander from one thing to the next.

Focusing doesn’t necessarily mean concentrating so let your mind flow from one idea to the next. As long as your breathing smoothly, you’re not doing it “wrong.”

By allowing yourself some time to relax, you’ll find yourself better able to concentrate later on other things. Yoga is a great practice for working through writer’s block or taxing experiences. Making it a regular part of your routine can enhance your output as a musician and a person alike.

Watch our course on getting Feedback and put these relaxation tools to good use!