A daily yoga practice will change the way you approach your instrument and improve every aspect of your playing and your life. The ability to stay relaxed, calm and strong, flexible and injury free is the key to a long and successful career. Yogic breathing and movement helps to reduce anxiety, stress, mental and physical tension and allows you to move more freely around the drums. Increasing oxygen flow to the blood will improve circulation to all your vital organs and muscles in your body. Do you ever hold your breath while you play? Do you notice in more difficult sections of songs you tighten up all your muscle? Are you tired, sore, and injured from touring, practicing, teaching or performing? Do you have insomnia? Do you want to learn techniques to quiet your mind? The practices we are about to explore are designed to address all these questions and more. Let’s get started!
– Stefan Storace
Tempo and rhythm are essential components when practicing yoga and playing drums regardless of musical or yoga style. A metronome is our best friend when it comes to fine tuning and locking into specific tempos especially when recording in the studio. The metronome increases our focus and awareness to time and movement, which is critical to our job as drummers. It can also be used as a tool when practicing yoga as well. We are going to dive deep into how these two work harmoniously together.
In yoga, the breath – or “pranayama” – is a key component that moves the physical practice. “Prana” refers to life force or vital energy. “Ayama” means to extend or lengthen. The tempo or rhythm of the breathing dictates the speed or flow of the movements. The longer the inhalation and exhalation the slower the physical movements become when practicing yoga. The integration of using our metronome, locking in and breathing in time evenly and smoothly has tremendous benefits energetically, physically, mentally, emotionally and in some cases spiritually.
Calms the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system • Reduces anxiety and stress • Purifies the lungs Promotes full and complete breathing • Releases physical and mental tension Let’s put these concepts in motion, combining the use of our metronome, linking and syncing breath and eventually movement together
Ride The Rhythm
1. Set your metronome to 60 beats per second. Do your best to inhale and exhale between 3-5 seconds. If you can increase the length to 6,7, or 8 seconds it will continue to slow and deepen your practice. You want to keep the breath even in both directions to create balance, steadiness and rhythm. Remember your establishing a feeling tone and a tempo for your yoga practice.
2. Lie flat on your back with your legs extended in front of you about a foot and half apart. If you need support for your lower back and neck use a blanket or towel behind the neck and under the backs of the knees. This will support you and keep any compression out of these areas.
3. Close your eyes and begin to drop in to your nose only breathing. Allow the breath to be smooth in it’s texture and even in length in both directions. This creates a more balanced and even breath.
4. Place your hands on your navel center and take a slow deep breath into your lower belly. Feel the belly expand and fill as you inhale, and fall towards the spine as you exhale. Do 8-10 rounds.
5. Move your hands to your ribs and take a slow deep breath into your rib cage. Feel the ribs expand as you inhale and soften and relax on your exhale. Do 8-10 rounds
6. Place your hands on your collarbones towards the chest region and inhale deeply. Feel the chest expand on inhale and relax on exhale. Do 8-10 rounds.
Linking all three parts together
1. Please continue to use your hands to feel your breath into all 3 parts of the body. As you continue to practice you can allow your hands to rest on the floor next to your body and guide the breath without the use of your hands.
2. Inhale fill the lower belly as it begins to rise continue inhaling to expand the ribs and chest region. 3. Exhale from the chest, then ribs, and then the lower belly.
3. Exhale from the chest, then ribs, and then the lower belly.
4. Repeat the sequence, inhaling to the belly, the ribs and the chest. Exhale chest, ribs and then the lower belly. Do 8-10 rounds or more depending on your time frame. 5. We are preparing the body for safe and functional movement.