Green Shirt Studio

5 Reasons Why Every Actor Should Take Yoga

Yoga class

I’ve learned so much about acting by studying yoga. Read any text by a prominent yogi and it feels like you’re reading an acting textbook. One of my favorite quotes is from B.K.S. Iyengar in the book, Light on Life: “Action is movement with intelligence. The world is filled with movement. What the world needs is more conscious movement, more action.” It’s from a yoga book, but it could just as easily have come from an acting book, right?

Here are five reasons why I think every actor should develop a regular yoga practice.

1. Yoga helps my body care less
I played hockey in middle school and got obsessed with mastering the art of the slap shot. Consistent practice gave me a technique that allowed muscle memory to set in where I didn’t have to think about the shot’s mechanics. Yoga works the same way. I can take the muscle memory from yoga into a performance or the moment before I walk into an audition. The tension in my shoulders melts away and I find an active lift in my chest.

2. Yoga helps my brain care less
I put a lot of pressure on myself. It’s so easy for me to get down on the shows I don’t book or the success of my peers. Without yoga, I would be a total basket case. Something about it helps me let go of the person I think I’m supposed to be. Then I can focus on and love who I am. This lets me work from the ground up and be creative instead of having my head in the clouds.

3. Yoga helps me breathe
It was difficult for me to connect with my breath in voice class. It felt forced, stilted and full of anxiety. Yoga has given me tools to work with my breath that acting classes never have. It’s so powerful to realize when I’m not breathing and then let myself breathe. If I’m not breathing I’m holding something back!

4. Yoga reminds me acting is a practice
Yoga has played a huge role in a number of cultures for thousands of years. It doesn’t belong to me and it deserves my respect. If I want to deepen my yoga practice I have to make it a necessity to my daily life. Now reread this little blurb and replace “yoga” with acting/performance.

5. Yoga helps me give thanks for my practice
At the end of each yoga practice I say a little prayer to myself thanking the universe for giving me the opportunity to do yoga. I’ve carried that habit over into my acting so now before every performance or class I close my eyes for half a second and give thanks for the opportunity to experience my art. It feels good to be grateful for things that help me feel good!

If you’re interested in developing a yoga practice, check out Jack’s weekly yoga classes at Green Shirt Studio on Fridays at 2 p.m.