In the last number of years, I went from having nearly constant major back issues, where it was difficult to be on tour and walk for more than 20 minutes, to now having very minor issues that are infrequent and easy to remedy. What changed? In a word, yoga.
As musicians, we deal with a lot of repetition (posture and playing), and most of us suffer from repetitive stress syndrome in one form or another. I have found tremendous relief from practicing yoga.
Yoga not only helps to make the muscles in our bodies symmetrical (side to side and up and down), but it also strengthens our posture, expands our lung capacity, relaxes our mind and reduces stress. Yoga can also help relieve carpel tunnel syndrome as well as tendinitis.
Overall, from practicing yoga regularly, I feel much better. It seems I can think faster (or maybe the world is slowing down?!). I notice a difference in my breath support, my dynamic control, my sound and my clarity of ideas. My sound has changed because I know “how” to breathe and how best to naturally fill my lungs with air (from the bottom up!) and to get the most efficiency from my breath.
I have also spoken with singers who say they notice a difference in their voice as a result from their yoga practice. How great that we can improve our sound (our voice) and tone through yoga!
A few minutes of daily yoga is usually sufficient for me although you can go much longer, of course.
All in all, I don’t feel there is a more complete exercise than yoga. You can practice on the road, in a bus, backstage, by the side of your bed, in a class, in a field … nearly anywhere it seems. Find yourself a yoga teacher you are comfortable with, and remember, as with music, through repetition comes magic.
By the way, my yoga of choice is Svaroopa Yoga.
About the Author
Jeff Coffin is the three-time Grammy Award winning saxophonist of Dave Mathews Band and Bela Fleck & the Flecktones. In addition, Jeff leads the Mu’tet. As a clinician, Jeff has presented worldwide in places from Farmington, Maine, to Perth, Australia. He is a Yamaha and Vandoren Performing Artist. Jeff recently released two new CDs: “‘Duet’ by Jeff Coffin & Jeff Sipe”(check iTunes and stores) and “Jeff Coffin & the Mu’tet—LIVE!” (at www.earuprecords.com). Visit Jeff’s website at www.jeffcoffin.com.