I’ve been studying Anusara yoga for several months and thoroughly enjoying it, and lately I’ve felt the urge to learn even more. So, last Saturday, I took a class on how to practice yoga at home. The class was really interesting, but not just because it deepened my knowledge about yoga–it also was a great opportunity to get ideas from the way people in other disciplines practice! This week, I adapted a couple of ideas from yoga into my trombone practice, and here’s what happened:
At the beginning, set an intention. – When practicing yoga, one of the first things our teacher suggests we do is set an intention to guide our practice. We may choose to focus on things like staying in the moment, expressing gratitude, or a using a certain yogic principle. Doing this has really helped me in yoga, especially during those poses that are, er, not so comfortable! :0
So, I thought, why not do the same in trombone practice? Each day this week, I’ve set some kind of intention before starting to play. On Monday, I felt sluggish, so I set an intention to have a flowing practice session. I noticed that I grew more energized as the session went on, because the intention would pop into my mind whenever I’d start to sit a little too long between exercises. On Wednesday, AKA “potentially frustrating recording work day”, I set an intention to be nice to myself. Instead of succumbing to the urge to beat myself up, I was able to listen to my recordings more objectively–and I gained some valuable insights as a result. In short, setting intentions REALLY worked!
Finish with Savasana – At the end of yoga practice, we take a pose called Savasana, in which we lie down, chill out, and savor the results of the work we’ve done. My teacher has cautioned that Savasana is a non-negotiable part of yoga practice–you’ve gotta do it every time, or else you’ll find yourself frazzled instead of relaxed!
This made me think of all the times I’ve abruptly ended my trombone practice and gone to do something else, with no real transition in between. Like yoga, practicing trombone brings us into a different state of being: our senses are heightened, and we’re challenging the body and mind to perform complex functions in flawless harmony. When I think of it that way, it makes no sense at all to just pack up the horn and go watch TV–there should be a transition back out of the elevated state of practice! So, after each session this week, I’ve taken a couple of minutes to stretch my chops out and relax before leaving the studio. During this time, I write down a couple things I’ve accomplished, and allow myself to savor what I’ve done. This musical chill time has worked just like Savasana, allowing me to feel satisfied with the progress I’ve made, rather than anxious about everything I still need to do.
Have you found ideas from other disciplines that work really well in your trombone practice? If so, please feel free to share them in the comments section! Until next time, namaste!