In a previous Broadway Educators article, I discussed tactics for working with young students with anxiety. As technology is more prevalent in everyday use and common conversations switch from live to digital, we start to see more students with anxious behaviors. The constant use of screens can make it more difficult to connect with students or even to get them to emote with their acting material. However, there is a lot of merit in teachers studying different yoga practices to help students connect with their minds and bodies.
Drama Teachers and Yogis
Whether you enjoy yoga or not, you have to appreciate the language used by yoga teachers. There is emphasis on anatomical correctness in body alignment, the way breath works, and a student’s mental presence in class. A lot can be learned from simply listening to yoga teachers teach.
Connection to breath is a big one for my students. The language I hear continually used in my yoga classes is about taking a breath and allowing the belly to fill. The belly button draws away from the spine and draws back in upon air release. We know that our lungs are not in our bellies…but this language emphasizes the engagement of core muscles in the stomach to make a stronger breath flow. Exercises that work these muscles can be reworded to reach students of any age. Reminding students to connect with breath will ease their anxiety and offer them more support in vocal production of spoken or sung lines.
Yoga and Mental Health
When you start to see anxiety in students as young as I do, it’s important to start talking to them about taking care of their health. I see the anxiousness in kids who do well in school and put pressure on themselves to do well in everything. Oftentimes, these students are very talented but are getting in their own way about enjoying the arts process. Realize that a lot of your students may have parents who aren’t performers and your heartfelt advice can really change the way students experience that process.Taking yoga classes as an arts teacher can help to give you the language you may need with students in worrisome situations. Plus, you can write it off in your taxes!