I find my yoga-teacher-self creeping into lessons all of the time. In fact, today, in the middle of a lesson, my student said "Do you teach yoga? Because if not, you should!"
Aside from the more obvious applications in the voice studio, like stretching and breath-work, one of the biggest yoga concepts that I find helpful for singing is the idea of "finding your tadasana in every pose."
Tadasana is Mountain Pose. It's usually the starting and ending pose of most yoga sequences or flows. If you see the pose from the outside, it may just look like "standing." But it's much more than that. It is mindful standing. Balance. I practice and teach tadasana with feet slightly apart (mostly because I have wider set hips than those ancient yogis --- men), arms resting down and palms facing outward/forward. I'm not sure where I picked it up, but I sometimes cue a heavy dinosaur tail and a hot air balloon head. You are grounded, yet buoyant. Open and ready to receive or give, shift or move forward. Balance.
So if we are finding tadasana in every pose, we are finding balance and readiness. We are grounded and buoyant, whether we are in chaturanga (push up-like) or eagle (my favorite arm balance) or warrior three (my least favorite pose of all time....tadasana is still usually distant for me in warrior three.)
In singing, we hear a lot about posture and alignment. Posture is (thankfully) becoming a bit of a dirty word, and the focus is shifting to alignment. The problem is, when we are performing, we are not usually able to brace ourselves and stand in one place...park and bark, if you will. The commercial artist behind a microphone is not stiff and soldier-like (and may have a guitar or piano). The opera singer is just as emotive and fluid as the actor. The musical theatre performer is often tap dancing, cartwheeling, and playing the accordion these days. There's just not a whole lot of stillness in singing. Another great yoga cue/dharma of mine is that balance is not stillness, but constant small adjustments. But that's another blog post.
Instead of discussing alignment with my students, I find myself cueing tadasana (with dinosaurs and balloons) and then inviting them to move while they sing. Can we find our tadasana, no matter where we are on stage and what kind of storytelling we are involved in? Like everything, it is a practice, and sometimes it will be more difficult than others (cough cough warrior three). But it can definitely be a starting and ending point to find a place of center. A moving balance, grounded and buoyant, ready for anything.
Thank you for reading. Happy singing!