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5 Things Yoga Taught Me About Acting

5 Things Yoga Taught Me About Acting

While the only constant in life is change, my yoga practice is one of the few things that’s stuck with me. It’s been a lifesaver for my mental health and an essential companion on my journey as a performer. When yoga became a regular part of my routine ten years ago, elements of my life as an actor that were once heavy lost weight. It was kinda like when Bruce Springsteen first rocked out with Clarence Clemons. Things just made more sense. If you’re an actor that’s thought about investing more time in a yoga practice, I highly recommend it. Especially in these times when we’re stuck at home. Here’s 5 things my yoga practice has taught me about acting.

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 take the muscle memory from yoga to a performance or the moment before I walk into an audition. The tension in my shoulders melts away, I find an active lift in my chest, and I’m more present.

2. Yoga helps my brain care less

It’s easy for me to get down on myself for the jobs I don’t book or when I leave a show feeling like I didn’t do my best work. When I grapple with self doubt and insecurity I get on my mat. On my mat I get to let go of the person I think I’m supposed to be and focus on and work towards accepting who I am. Yoga and acting are both a practice of self-acceptance. I am enough!

3. Yoga helps me breathe

Learning about my breath in a college voice class didn’t click for me. At the time, it made me feel like there was a right way to breathe and I just knew I couldn’t do it. I was stuck in my head. Practicing yoga helped me create a healthy relationship with my breath. Instead of trying to “breathe right,” I got aquatinted with what it feels like to breathe. Now when I’m on stage and I stop breathing I can feel it and I let my breath drop back in.

4. Yoga reminds me acting is a practice

I can feel it in my body if I don’t do yoga for a few days. My joints get crunchy and my lower back hurts. There is no yoga deity that bestows me with yoga talent that takes away the necessity for me to make it a regular practice. Knowing this, and feeling those aches, I’m reminded that “talent” won’t take me very far in my acting practice either. If I want to get good I’ve gotta work at it. I have to keep putting myself out there, keep creating, keep working at my craft every day. I can’t perform everyday, especially in these COVID days, but I can call an old friend and connect with them about a show we did together a few years ago or watch a new Netflix series that inspires me. I can do little things everyday that supports my growth as an actor.

5. Yoga helps me give thanks for my practice

Before I did yoga, I felt like acting owed me something. It was supposed to serve me and when it didn’t, I got angry. At the end of each yoga practice I close my eyes and thank myself and the universe for giving me the opportunity to practice yoga. I’ve carried that habit over to acting so now before every performance or class I close my eyes for half a second and give thanks for that opportunity to experience my craft. It’s an incredible privilege to practice.