Private Sessions: Customized Sequences
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 follow a 3-pronged approach:
I. Perform two short excerpts- one which has been mastered and one which presents a greater challenge. This provides me with an opportunity to observe the body-instrument connection in two distinct contexts.
II. Next, I design a customized sequence of postures and breathing exercises to free what may be causing physical discomfort while playing, or hindering optimal performance.
III. Finally, the two excerpts are revisited to hear and feel if there is any difference in comfort, technique, musical expressiveness, and overall sound quality.
Beginners’ Yoga for Musicians
Beginners’ Yoga for Musicians teaches the three places of attention in the posture practice: the shape of the posture, the breath and the gazing point. The synchronicity of these three elements improves concentration and confidence, while decreasing performance anxiety and risk of repetitive stress injuries.
Students learn techniques for optimal weight distribution to avoid placing undue stress on sensitive joints, particularly the hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck and knees. An emphasis is placed on internal alignment through the breath, seamlessly woven into sequences designed to increase strength, flexibility and focus, while alleviating physical and mental tension. Modifications are given for those working with injuries.
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 (posture) 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. Alignment of the limbs, which includes moving in a way complementary to the sheaths of muscle and connective tissue that spiral from head-to-toe, is integral to the establishment of stability and grace within a pose.
In this unique class, musicians bring their instruments to experiment with how the spiral line and arcing movements can be incorporated to enhance musicianship and freedom within the body, in addition to reducing overuse injuries by moving in ways that complement the body’s design.
Chair Yoga & Five Senses Release
Engage in a sequence of postures that stretch, strengthen and rebalance the body to avoid performance-related injuries and other chronic conditions from long hours of practice without having to leave your chair. Postures include: twists, forward and lateral bends, mild backbends and inversions and hip, heart and shoulder-openers.
Since the eyes of the 21st century musician do not get a break from “close-focus” activities (i.e. reading music, working at the computer, texting on Smart phones, reading on the iPad), participants will learn several facial yoga techniques to release excess tension that can percolate throughout the body and impede performance. With the exception of our skin, the head contains all of our sense organs. Releasing tension within the head improves our quality of expression, technique and musicality. With only 43 facial muscles, we have the remarkable capability of creating 10,000 different facial expressions!
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
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. Bandhas are subtle tools that can be employed to loosen and release blockages called granthis (knots). These knots are complex clusters of built up physical and psychological tension that create a feeling of heaviness in the body, weighing us down and causing unnecessary discomfort. These knots are often subconscious and protect the self (ego) from past physical or emotional traumas. The proper activation of specific 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, bandhas prevent injuries and 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, soothe the nervous system and promote alignment and full-body integration.
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.