Beginner's Yoga Sequence for Singers
Let’s be real. Starting to practice yoga can be intimidating. Perhaps this is because of its inherent connection with having to be flexible (which you don’t) or needing to twist yourself into a pretzel (which you don’t). A very wise yoga teacher once told me that yoga is a breathing practice, and the physical postures are there to facilitate a deeper connection to your breath. One of my favorite singing teachers told me instead of thinking of singing well, think of breathing well. It all comes back to the breathing!
Here’s a beginners yoga sequence that I created just for singers. Try it out before your next voice lesson or audition.
1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana) > Chest Expansion Forward Fold
Stand with your feet together and arms at your sides. Really root down through the feet and engage through the legs. On an inhale, sweep your arms above your head, look up, and lean back – opening through the chest. As you exhale, interlace all ten fingers behind your low back. Inhaling, draw your knuckles down towards the floor, and shoulders away from the ears. As you exhale, bend your knees very deeply, fold forward from the hips, and lift your knuckles up towards the ceiling to expand your chest.
Mountain pose is a spine-lengthening and grounding posture that can help you stabilize your singing stance. As you find the chest expansion forward fold, try to focus on a wide, horizontal rib cage breath.
2. Crouch and Curl
From your forward fold, release your fingers down towards the mat, bend your knees deeply, lifting heels gently off the mat. Round your spine, tucking chin to chest, your forehead towards your knees. Take 5 deep breaths.
With the spine rounded in this crouching position, you can really focus on breathing into the entire space of the back. For me, this pose has calmed a few pre-performance jitters!
3. Crocodile Pose (Makarasana)
From your tiny ball, lift your hips and straighten the legs just slightly. Plant your palms on the mat and step your legs back. Lower your knees to the mat, and come to lie on your belly on the mat. Untuck the toes and relax the legs. Stack your forearms on top of one other to create a pillow for your forearms. Tuck the chin into the chest. Take 5 deep breaths.
This pose draws awareness to a diaphraghmatic and low belly breath. With the whole front of the body is in contact with the mat, you notice the belly pressing against the mat with each inhale when belly expands. This pose is also a calming, restorative posture, which is beautiful for calming nerves.
4. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) > Low Lunge > Twist
Position your palms on the mat just under your shoulders. Curl your toes under, and lift your hips towards the ceiling to create an upside down “v” – or downward facing dog. Lift your right leg off the mat, and sweep it through your hands for a low lunge. Plant left hand on the mat and lift the right finger tips toward the ceiling for a twist. Expand through the chest and find length from left hand to right fingertip. Return right hand to mat and step back to downward facing dog and repeat on the second side.
Downward facing dog is a powerful grounding posture, as well as spine-lengthening. By finding the twist, you expand through the chest, creating openness across the front space of the body as you prepare to perform.
Nicole adds: Be smart about your yoga practice. Know your body--what it can do, and what it can't. Talk to your doctor or take a yoga class with Krista or another yoga teacher near you to be sure you're on the right track.