Picture a music college student in their first year of postgraduate studies spending hours in the practice room, struggling with back pain from playing the flute and trying to navigate all the pressures of that stage of their career. That was me in 2012. That same year, I tried my first yoga class as a way of managing tension from playing my instrument and, let’s be real, to get a bit more fit as well. Little did I know that yoga would end up becoming a lifelong companion for me.
Can yoga offer more than just physical benefits?
I don’t know about you but, for those first few years, I used to turn to yoga mainly for the physical benefits. I could tell it was making me feel great and that kept me coming back and being consistent with it. Now, let me just say there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing yoga just to feel good and alleviate pain. A big part of yoga is reducing suffering and if this is the only thing that gets you onto the mat, I say good for you for taking care of yourself. Could there be more though?
Leading up to my first yoga teacher training in 2018, I went to as many classes as I could, trying to make sure I would be able to cope with the intense practice schedule once I got there. I still remember sitting on the plane before taking off for India thinking to myself: “You must have gone completely crazy”.
But for all the physical practice preparation that I had done for the course, I was in for a surprise.
You see, what I ended up realising was that yoga wasn’t really about gymnastics or how well you did in the classes.
The biggest takeaway for me wasn’t even the fact that I was certified as a teacher at the end of it. In fact, something far more valuable ended up coming out of that journey.
I remember one evening sitting in the meditation class, tears streaming down my face for nearly half an hour. Not tears of sadness but of release. Somehow the intense practice, philosophy and meditation, all came together and made me realise that, beyond anything else, yoga was about the relationship I had with myself. It was the first time in my life that I stopped being my own critic and instead became my own friend.
That’s the thing about us musicians, we care so much about what we do
Roll your eyes all you want but that’s the thing about us musicians, we care so much about what we do that we sometimes end up putting far too much pressure on ourselves. We’re extremely conscientious people. Otherwise, how could we spend hours and hours working alone in the practice room and not give up at the first failure? But if this is part of who you are, do you really need to add even more pressure on top of it and beat yourself up for every mistake?
Yoga is a great container for practicing self-compassion and inviting more softness into your life.
The very first teaching in the system of yoga is of non-violence. Most of us are pretty clear on this when it comes to non-violence towards other people. But what about non-violence when it comes to yourself? The way you talk to yourself in your own head? The way you deal with setbacks or even how much space, rest and selfcare you allow in your life?
It’s no surprise, given the above, that it was also India where I first thought of merging my two worlds of yoga and music, and not long after a little venture was born called Musicians’ Yoga with Veronika. I help musicians avoid injury and burnout so that they can enjoy sustainable careers, staying connected to their love of music.
About the Musician’s Yoga Essentials course
The Musician’s Yoga Essentials course is now available for free for MU members.
The course contains two types of content - core content consisting of yoga and meditation classes - and short lessons of useful information designed to help you bring the practice of yoga out from the lesson into your daily life as a musician.
Get started with the course now