WE ALL NEED TO RELAX
We know relaxation is a huge part of performing. We know that relaxation has to be a regular part of your everyday life in order for it to be readily accessible on stage or screen. What I didn’t know until today is how debilitatingly tense I have gotten over the last few months!!!
I love Lee Strasberg’s definition of relaxation, “Relaxation is the exact amount of muscular effort you need to accomplish a task”. Relaxation is not being a heap of jelly on the ground, nor is it being a mush mouthed singer. It’s using the correct muscles with the appropriate amount of energy to get the job done – no more and no less. In my case, I discovered my effort is in all the wrong places. I try to muscle sound with the back of my tongue, yet my lips are super lazy. After these discoveries in today’s lesson, I started paying attention to my every day usage. I noticed –
1. I hold my breath while choosing an answer in Duolingo (It’s an app for goodness sake, not a PH.d dissertation.)
2. I raise my eyebrows and shoulders while putting on makeup (I promise, my arm can reach every part of my face without raising my shoulders).
3. When I brush my teeth, I crouch over and jut out my neck in a way that makes no sense at all. It’s just not necessary.
4. The list goes on.
Why all this tension? Have I always been like this? The answer is not always, but the last two months have been full of 7 weeks of travel, 3 continents, little sleep and tons of work. Clearly, I’ve been operating on empty and resorting to muscling and holding my breath through life. So as always, it’s good to check in and bring awareness to the situation. And sometimes awareness is enough. In my case, I need to reset. I love Elizabeth Kemp’s “green light” exercise. There’s nothing in the world like having Elizabeth lead you through the exercise, so put taking one of her classes on your bucket list. Until that magical day when she leads you through it, you can start with this:
- Lie down comfortably on the floor.
- Bring your awareness to your toes.
- Wiggle them around and imagine a green light flowing through them.
- Let the green light release all the tension.
- Imagine the green light moving up your body, one section at a time.
- With each body part – bring your awareness to it, move it, release the tension.
- Spend extra time on all the muscles of the face.
The purpose of the green light is to give you something to focus on, helping to avoid your mind wandering or worrying. I, for one, am going to get the green light flowing until I stop tensing up during smart phone games!