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Benefits of Yoga and Mindfulness to Piano Playing

Benefits of Yoga and Mindfulness to Piano Playing

As most people are aware, Yoga has many health benefits. Most of those benefits related the physical health of those that use it. But did you know that Yoga has more than just those physical advantages? There are mental benefits as well!  

Yoga is partially known for being on of the most accessible and effective exercises for the mind. It elicits relaxation resulting in more efficient breathing and increased memory. Yoga is also closely tied to the concept of “mindfulness” which reduces anxiety and stress. Mindfulness and bodily awareness are both crucial skills for a musician. In a course of piano study, many are finding it advantageous to incorporate the concept of mindfulness. If one has an interest in Yoga or Zen meditation, “stillpoint” techniques are particularly relevant and engaging. These techniques create balance between mind and body which is essential to an excellent pianist.

The “stillpoint” concept originated from gentle hands-on therapy where the brain is shifted from a state of alertness to one of “calmness”. There is a sense of inner tranquility and peace where the fight-or-flight responses is set aside. A “stillpoint” technique has a significant role if it is integrated into yoga and meditation. How does all of this tie into piano playing? For some, it may never be a connection, it may even be unnoticeable at first. However, most admit you will come to witness and feel these benefits as you continue your study.

  1. Playing the piano with pure focus can sometimes be tricky. There are a lot of distractions that can arise from anywhere – most especially If you’re waiting for some alert from your phone a few inches away! Yoga can help practice concentration while practicing. You must find a way to support that concentration by setting aside all the possible forms of distraction. You can put your phone to airplane mode or switch it off – or better yet, in another room.
  2. Yoga helps overcome stage fright and nervousness before a stage piano performance. Players tend to be a bit worried about making mistakes – hitting wrong notes or forgetting transitions. Yoga helps you focus on understanding the masterpiece through keyboard patterns. Focus on what you can do, and the rest will come swiftly. It’s all in the mind.
  3. Proper posture is also one of the physical benefits of Yoga. It is extremely helpful because players sitting for too long can cause tension to the upper and lower back part of the body. Stretching the arms prevents tension and cramps in the neck, shoulders, wrists and lower back and are all helpful for pianists.

 

We have discovered that yoga and other relaxation techniques have a profound effect on the body. We strive to eliminate the stress and anxiety we encounter in the outside world when playing the piano. However, these distractions will always exist so it is great to learn techniques to lessen the effect of them. We encourage you, in your studies with Cadenza, to find the techniques that work for you!  

Mindful Piano Practice

Mindful Piano Practice

Stress and distraction will forever be present in our lives. It can come from a variety of directions. One of the most powerful examples is the invasion of technology in every part of our daily lives. Technology has dimmed the marks between our home and work. We always struggle to find a place where we can unwind. In order to overcome stress, many choose to explore mindfulness exercises like meditation and yoga. The concept of Mindfulness is widespread and has many benefits.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation focuses on our awareness, on where we are now. We have two places, two spaces, in our minds. Where we are and where our mind takes us. The trick is to be able to focus on the now. Our body, our space, the sounds, the aspects of our life where we are physically.. Our mind tends to wander – this is natural and normal. We can dwell on the past or anxious about the future, anywhere but now. Let it go there (don’t be mad at yourself) but when you do notice it, gently bring it back to where you can focus on the here and now. We cannot change the past and there are many things that can affect the future. Stress is relieved in grasping what we can handle. For the most part we are better at handling the present than we are the future.

In these other timelines, we can have thoughts about our fears or failures or how we were unfairly treated by others. Sometimes, we also predict calamities and disasters that will happen to us. This often ends up us being lonely, hurt, afraid, and stressed. You cannot be mindful of where you are now if you are always concerned about the future. Relax and find the beauty in the now.

Piano Practice: Mindfulness

In order to enter in mindfulness meditation, one anchor that is used is breathing. Spend a great deal of time to focus on how you breath; patterns, depth, time. Be aware of what your body is doing naturally. This is the first step in being present.  Being aware of our breath means we have entered the present moment. Before we start a song, breathe and know where you are – getting ready to take the first step in a completely new musical journey – enjoy it!

Other anchors musicians have at their disposal include the notation, sound, fingerings, and rhythm. If you practice focusing on these issues, not only will the piano practice becomes more efficient, but you will find it rewarding as you will also find relief from daily stress that could be from school, homework, etc. If you feel time speed up when practicing piano, then this a great sign! Some people call it being in the “zone”.

And being mindful, present, and less stressed will means you will also learn how to express your emotions through music and, the ultimate goal, to have better connection to the audience during performances.

 

Start your piano lessons today! Join us at Cadenza Music Academy.  Send us an email at [email protected] or call us at 949-416-2355.