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  • Writer's pictureFlowingMeditation

Take up the space you need to thrive

Updated: Aug 15, 2022

As a professional opera singer, my training focused on many aspects of an individual taking up space. First, we must build the technique of the voice so that it will carry over the orchestra and chorus and fill a hall of sometimes over 3000 audience members without microphones. This is the voice taking up space, filling up the frequencies available to create powerful emotions. The next objective is with learning how to move the body on stage and sing at the same time. You would be surprised how difficult this can be for a singer!

I can remember not being able to multi-task at all while singing and pretty much standing and singing when it was my turn. As I got more experience, it became easier to allow the body to move more naturally while singing, but it was still hard to give myself the permission to take up space onstage. I felt deep down inside that I was certainly not the most important or most interesting singer onstage, and what if I made a mistake? It was easier to make myself small in the case that my voice wasn't perfect or I counted wrong. In any formal training with a history of traditions, whether it be classical music, opera or yoga, we sometimes get caught in the trap of restricting ourselves based on the rules of tradition, not allowing ourselves to express our true selves because we think it's not allowed.

I certainly got caught in this self restricting mindset for many years of my career. It took years of experience performing on stage to be able to feel free of the weight of perfection. I slowly found the path to freedom to take up my own space through yoga, through breathwork, meditation and asana. However, as my yoga training program focused on teaching exact cues and following strict alignment adjustments, I felt the joy was taken out of just feeling good moving through the body when I had to micromanage everyone's moving limbs. We were trained to be super careful teachers to avoid injuries, but this control of alignment instills no trust in the student that they can learn how to be aware of movement in their own bodies. After all, we all have unique bodies and no matter how I try to make a practice safe for everyone, there still might be a pose that is just inappropriate for a certain body and unique skeletal form. This is why I teach my students to learn to be the pilots of their own planes and learn to listen to their bodies instead of strictly to a teacher’s cues. One alignment is not appropriate for every body. Naturally, we all have to first have the general idea of proper alignment during a yoga practice so that we do not cause any injuries, but there is a lot of wiggle room in what proper alignment is for each body. I give my body permission to explore each day where the borders are, what feels good today and move in a way that feels natural to my spirit and my body and take up my space in the room.

Everyone should learn how to take up their space and not feel ashamed or shy that it is too much space because they are not important or while they might do or say something wrong or not be able to do a certain asana with their individual limbs and spines. Yoga is an individual practice as well as the opera profession. We get nowhere by comparing ourselves to others on stage or in the yoga studio because we all have something to offer and be proud of no matter what our bodies are capable of doing.

There is space for all bodies and mindsets in my yoga space. My goal is that everyone feels comfortable expressing their unique self and not ashamed to take up their unique shape in the space of the universe.

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