Beginners Yoga for Musicians
Beginners Yoga for Musicians teaches the three places of attention in the asana (posture) practice: the shape of the posture, the breathing system and the gazing point. The synchronicity of these three elements enhances one-pointed concentration, while soothing an overactive nervous system. Students learn techniques for optimal weight distribution to avoid placing undue stress on sensitive joints, particularly the hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders and neck. An emphasis is placed on internal alignment through the breath woven into sequences designed to increase strength, flexibility and focus, while alleviating physical and mental tension. Nicole offers modifications for those working with injuries.
Private Sessions: Customized Sequences (75-min.)
Originally, yoga was directly transmitted from one teacher to one student. The pioneers of this practice understood the importance of individualizing each yoga experience to meet the student’s specific needs. Private sessions provide a more intimate view into your practice. You can start a new practice, deepen an existing practice, or focus on healing an existing injury or condition.
Private sessions for musicians follows a 3-pronged approach:
I. Perform two short excerpts- one which has been mastered and one which presents a greater challenge. This provides an opportunity for me to observe the body-instrument connection. Then we discuss the observations.
II. Next, I design a customized sequence of postures and breathing exercises to free what may be physically causing discomfort while playing, or hindering the overall performance.
III. Finally, the two excerpts are revisited to see, hear and feel if there is any difference in comfort, technique, musical expressiveness and overall sounds quality.
Additional Workshop Descriptions
Breath, Bandhas & Beethoven
Physically, the bandhas are internal muscular locks, or perhaps more appropriately envisioned as gateways, which redirect energy within the body, while toning, cleansing and energizing the organs and muscles. They are subtle tools employed to loosen and release blockages called granthis (knots). These knots are complex clusters of built up physical and psychological tension that weight us down and cause discomfort. These knots are often subconscious and protect the self (ego) from past traumas. The bandhas help release these knots, allowing for healing and growth.
The engagement of mula and uddiyana bandhas are keystones of the hatha yoga practice. When developed in concert with the breath, the bandhas prevent injuries, develop clarity of mind and movement, while infusing a sense of buoyancy in the physical practice on the mat and in the practice room.
The Breath, Bandhas & Beethoven workshop explores the seemingly elusive mula and uddiyana bandhas as a means to organize movement from the body’s center, stimulate the digestive fire, tone the internal organs, purify the nervous system and promote alignment and full-body integration.
Musical Engine Tune-Up
A yoga tune-up explores the body’s natural geometries and techniques for achieving optimal weight distribution to assist the body in maintaining its natural rhythms and overall health.
Asana practice often focuses on the overall shape of a pose. However, the proper placement and ‘doming’ action of the hands and feet, which serve as both the grounding and extension points of yoga postures, are often neglected. The alignment of our limbs, which includes moving in a way which complements the sheaths of muscle and connective tissue that spiral from head-to-toe, is integral to establishing stability and grace within a pose. In this unique class, musicians are requested to bring their instruments to experiment with how the spiral line and arcing movements can be incorporated to enhance musicianship and freedom within the body, thereby reducing the risk of overuse injuries, by moving in way that complements the body’s design.
Core Values & Concentration
Improve concentration and musicianship through a series of postures and breath work aimed at toning the abdomino-pelvic region.
Deep abdominal work, through a purposeful sequence of postures cultivates strength from the inside out by toning weak muscle tissue, releasing hypertonic muscles, awakening sluggish organs, breaking up scar tissue and balancing the nervous system.
Yoga Body-Mapping Workshop
Changing inefficient movement patterns begins with a change in thinking. A paradigm shift is needed to correct dysfunctional movement patterns resulting from body mapping errors in the size, structure and function of body parts. This shift starts with a genuine understanding of how weight delivery and balance are channeled throughout the body to free the breath and movement of the limbs, empowering us to make musical choices based on healthy movement choices that complement the body’s design.
Body Mapping is the study of brain maps imprinted on the cortical surface of the brain, which determine the self-representation of our body and how it moves. Our conceptions of the musculoskeletal system influence how effectively we use our body. Details of the body map affect the entire chain of movement, from planning through execution. Fortunately, brain plasticity enables us to revise inaccurate and disorganized maps.
In this workshop, Yoga, which disciplines the mind to be fully present and expand internal awareness, is the context for body map explorations. Its principles will be directly applied to cultivating efficient, expressive musical performance. The development and refinement of accurate mind-body connections is paramount in promoting freedom of movement and prevention of injuries including, but not limited to, Repetitive Stress Injuries, Tendinitis, Bursitis, Dystonias, Temporo-Mandibular Joint Disorder and Chronic Ulnar Deviation.
Topics of study include:
- Experience of balance when sitting and standing
- Development of sensory awareness
- Unobstructing the breath
- Investigation of both structure and movement of the body’s major joints
Y.A.Y. (Young Artist Yoga) Workshops
Young Artist Yoga takes young musicians on an explorative journey to cultivate self-awareness and healthy movement habits through a safe, playful, yet challenging yoga practice. Like music, yoga is a discipline and discipline is about consistency and mindful repetition over time. Through engaging, age-appropriate games and customized sequences of postures, students enhance their ability to listen and maintain focus in a positive environment which supports self-esteem and self-expression, while developing lifelong tools for stress management.
Grade K-2: Little Lotuses
Little Lotuses engage in a yoga-esque experience designed to introduce yoga basics in a playful environment, filled with music and movement. Budding yogis enhance motor coordination and social skills with a balance of active and passive poses in which roaring like a lion, barking like a dog, flying like a plane and fluttering wings like a butterfly is not out of the realm of possibility!
Grades 3-5: Young Yoga Explorers
Young Yoga Explorers investigate the way their bodies move and basic yoga principles through collaborative partner yoga games, environmental stewardship, basic anatomy, simple visualizations and mediation. Development of self-control and respect for others, including others’ personal space, cultivates positive peer interactions that carry over into their everyday lives off the mat.
Grades 6-8: Groovy Garudas (Eagles)
Groovy Garudas delve deeper into lessons of self-expression, self-acceptance and interpersonal skills with more challenging sequences, including balancing postures. The exploration of more challenging postures and meditation techniques are explored, in addition to the introduction of simple breathing techniques in an uplifting, non-competitive space that builds strength of spirit, mind and body.
Grades 9-12: Kurma (Tortoise) Teens
Kurma Teens will gain a more comprehensive understanding of the physical and philosophical aspects of traditional yoga in a positive environment that supports self-esteem, self-awareness, body appreciation and tools for stress management. The concept of Vinyasa, the special placement of breath coupled with movement, is incorporated into the sequences of postures, including the sun salutations. Kurmas will be encouraged to reflectively journal and sketch about their experiences.
Retreats: On- and Off-Site
A personalized yoga retreat builds trust and enriches communication among group members and like-minded individuals, both paramount to delivering dynamic performances. Yoga cultivates one-pointed focus, in addition to honing observation and listening skills. Please contact Nicole to book an on- or off-site retreat for your group or organization.