Yoga, what is the first thing that comes to your head when you see or hear that word? Now to some people (including myself in the past) it has meant a group of pretentious barefooted people in white flowing robes, who float in mid air crossed legged and humming (maybe not that exactly, but you get the gist). But to other people it means what it is, a spiritual and physical exercise that opens and refreshes the individuals body and mind. Now when you look at it in that way, it sounds just lovely in every way, it almost sounds like a physical nap. So why is there this, love it or hate it stigma that lingers around the art form?
I was first introduced to yoga, when I was in sixth form and it continued to be a regular thing that came into my drama training in university. When I look back at my time of actually doing it, I can tell you I really did like it and I was also quite the dab hand at it as well. The problem I was having was not with the yoga, but with the mentors. Each person who taught me or assisted me in my yoga workouts always had a certain attitude, which frustrated me. An attitude and presence that made me want to roll my eyes and scoff at everything they were saying. To these people, it wasn’t to be practiced as a fun, happy and relaxing experience; it was a serious art that should be practiced, with straight faces and a miserable outlook on life and different individuals (which by the way goes against everything yoga is). Everything thing they said about yoga or meditation, always had this ‘well you wouldn’t understand’ feeling at the end of it. It felt like every yoga teacher I had, alienated themselves with yoga and didn’t think anyone else was worthy of it, until they represented the white robe wearing hippies I mentioned before. With so many experiences of people like this, I excluded myself from yoga and I believe that is a factor that pushes other people as well.
But that is a crying shame; yoga is truly a gorgeous thing, which can solve so many problems in people today. We are all so stressed out with so many factors in modern life. Career, sex, relationships, money, taxes, parents, family, the list is endless. So what do we do? We get on with it like mindless zombies, not taking into consideration that all these things are just brewing over in our heads. When you think about it, the body and mind, is like a computer, the stresses of modern life is like a virus and yoga is an anti-virus programme. If you don’t have a good anti-virus programme installed into your computer, the virus will win and your computer will crash, same as if you aren’t embracing yourself in a spiritual form in one way or another, stress will break you down and you will find yourself crying whilst guzzling a bottle of red. A lot people would say, they don’t need yoga to chill out and get away from stress, they would rather have a drink with the lads/girls or go watch a film or footy match, which are great ways to take a break, but they don’t solve the problem. What yoga does is it, lets you recharge yourself in such a unique way, it makes you check that everything is in full working order and reminds yourself that you have full control of body and mind, so in turn, take have full control of your life and the problems life brings to you.
So if I think it is, so great, do I actually believe that there are people out there, who can teach and supervise a workshop, without making people feel unwelcome or not good enough? Well for a time I would have possibly said no. But when I saw our very own Danielle McCullough, progress to become the Bruce Lee of yoga, I changed my mind. Danielle is a down to earth human being, who has a cracking smile and a wicked sense of humour to go with it. During my time planning and writing this blog, I was able to have a sample of the workshop, she will be introducing on 26th October. In this workshop, I could see that Danielle brings her charming character into the workshop and makes you feel welcome and most importantly calm. In the workshop we focused on exercises that had specific aims to help the everyday artistic performer, keep their body and mind in control. Exercises that help improve, breathing techniques, stage presence, vision, balance, voice etc. There were also references, to controlling a performers Achilles heel of pre performance nerves. What I was given was just a mere sample of a full workshop and I still felt I had learnt a lot. These exercises had the reference and purpose to improve me as an actor; I felt these exercises, where also there to improve me as a person and also as a business. We as performers are products of our own business and if our product is not 100% up to standard, the business suffers. Danielle loves what she does and just wants to help people get themselves to a better form of life on and off the stage.
I know of people, who still feel that yoga isn’t for them, because they’re not flexible or worried that they are going to get something wrong. I understand these fears and objections, because I have been one of those people. Being that I have been there, I know I can’t make you all believe that yoga is for all of you and I can’t force you to believe that Danielle is a sign that not all Yoga teachers are intimidating people. But what I can say is don’t ignore yoga, yoga is there for a reason. Danielle is that someone, who can show you why yoga is there for the taking. If you are still not sure about how down to earth Danielle is, take into account that she ran a Gordon Burns Appreciation Society, when she was in university, if that is not a sign of someone, who doesn’t take themselves too seriously, I don’t know what is.
So please don’t be shy and join us on the 26th October for ‘Yoga and The Performer’ at the Cloud Aerial Arts Wellington House, Manchester.