Yoga for Posture
Violin & Viola players
Return to Westbury Park
Added content & updated March 2012
With thanks to Ms.
highly respected Yoga teacher, Canada / UK
Photography and animation by Roland Herrera
These animations are set to play infintely
1a. Above: Chest-of-Draws action. Play upright by pulling your head back. The "chest-of-draws" movement illustrates a healthy upright posture (the head movement you perform is a slower version of a chicken's head feeding). Note the head-back position means the chest comes forward and the tummy comes in. This upright position promotes arm movement independence, encourages circulation, and increases general postural well being.
This animation corrects a common defect of playing with the head too far forward; we see this often when players are engrossed with sight reading their parts. In these situations concentration and eye strain slowly draw our head out of alignment. The corrective action to remedy this is illustrated in the animation above, and should be practiced without & with the violin. Bring the violin to yourself, not your head to the violin... (which reminds me of how some people eat their cornflakes in the morning; they do not bring the food to their mouth, instead they bring their mouth to the food!) This puts too much weight forward, increasing neck strain, and restraining freedom of arm movement.
1b: Above: The Chin Push. Another way of demonstrating the chest-of-draw exercise. This time place your fingers on your chin and push it gently back to encourage the proper retreating motion of your head. Sometimes, while teaching, I will remind a pupil about this step by gently pushing back their chin.
2: Below: Another exercise to improve Head Alignment and general posture. After gently lowering your head back, slowly return to upright position as you push your tongue against the upper palette of your mouth especially as you add the final rotation of your head. Come back to your starting position and recomposing your posture. Use the frontal neck muscles, and keep your head, indeed your whole spine elongated as it smoothly returns upright. The movement should look and feel elegant and dignified.
3a: Below Left: A side stretch for the neck. Remember to do this equally on both sides. Obviously violinists and violists play with their heads turned to their left, and so it always helps to compensate in the other direction. However, it must never be performed exclusively to one side, but rather a balance of whatever we do on our left to be carried out equally on our right.
3b: Below Right : Rotate to the side. Again, it ovbiously helps violinists to rotate away from their playing side, but remember to balance this exercise out by performing it on both sides.
Back muscles and shoulder blades have to be very healthy and active, as violinists have to counter balance the weight of their unsupported arms in front of their bodies. Note the coming together of the shoulder blades, as they push down; an ideal exercise to counter the front loading caused by holding our instruments for long periods.
4a: Below Left:
4b: Below Right: Shoulder Blade Exercise. Again, another great exercise which compensates for the strain on our back muscles and provides relief from long hours of playing the violin/viola.
5b: Above Right: Abdominal side stretch ; again do it both sides.