Archive for 2011


Piano-Yoga® in Yoga & Health Mag

December 14th, 2011 — 1:38pm
Piano-Yoga® in Yoga & Health

The cover of Yoga & Health December Edition

Piano-Yoga® has recently been featured in Yoga & Health Magazine (December edition). Find out how GéNIA, the founder of Piano-Yoga®, broke her hand and used Piano-Yoga® to promote a remarkably swift recovery. See how she adapted and expanded the technique to enable her to play Rachmaninoff with her small hands. Described as ‘The first entirely new piano technique to emerge in over 50 years’ Yoga & Health also promotes the lifestyle changes that Piano-Yoga® encourages to help with practice, performance and stress managment.

Click the image to view the review!

‘Piano-Yoga® is something radical.’
‘An ideal way to combine an interest in Yoga with learning the piano.’

Click HERE to read the review
Click HERE to see other reviews of Piano-Yoga®
Click HERE to go to the Yoga & Health Website

The Piano-Yoga Team®

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Piano-Yoga® Christmas SALE

December 12th, 2011 — 2:47pm


Piano-Yoga® would like to wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. To celebrate this festive season we have new products on sale, Christmas vouchers and heavy discounts on our exciting products. Below is a list of all the SALE items with descriptions and links.

We hope you find the perfect gift!

Click HERE to see all of our products on sale.

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‘A Week of Piano and Warm Breezes on the Mediterranean Island of Eternal Springtime’: Guest Blogger Saori Tomoda Shares her Impressions of our Piano-Yoga® Retreat in Cyprus

October 6th, 2011 — 3:59pm

You often hear horrendous stories about the lives of failed pianists: one who suffered an injury, or another who had a big mental break down and lost their lust for life despite being very talented. This retreat really revealed to us how important it is for us pianists to look after our body and to be healthy and live happily.

Yoga practice, breathing work, diet, posture… The list of topics covered was immense. As the week progressed, we felt our goals increasingly becoming within closer reach as we gradually became stronger pianists. Everything felt like it was falling into place. Our bodies and hearts grew lighter and lighter.

The lectures were all excellent – I enjoyed every one. There was so much useful information and the other participants also shared their very interesting experiences. What interested me the most was the ‘Working with Rhythm’ workshop, and it was very exciting for me to be able to work on a Steinway grand. GéNIA showed us how to incorporate breathing into musical phrasing of a piece. With this breathing, I became physically unified with my piece. I had always connected emotionally with the music I play (well, most of the time!) but I had never imagined being able to be at one with a piece physically in such a way. This was a new and thrilling experience.

There were a lot of masterclasses. Different pianists, different problems. We all analysed each other’s playing and benefitted enormously from working as a team.

We were completely detached from the real world over there. We worked on our music and well-being the whole time, with great food, lovely weather and good company.

I’ll never forget the sunset we saw at Aphrodite beach, our cosy chats at the dinner table, our pancake overdose (!) and our brilliant night out on the town… A very big ‘thank you’ to GéNIA and everyone at the retreat. I really REALLY had the time of my life!

Saori

xxx

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The Piano-Yoga® Holistic Lifestyle Approach to the Piano

September 8th, 2011 — 5:10pm
by ~Kacia on Flickr

Vanilla chai and plum pudding by ~Kacia on Flickr

In Piano-Yoga® we believe that creating an optimal environment which promotes the student’s sense of well-being is the best approach to learning the piano.  When we feel relaxed, think positively and our concentration is at its peak, we can learn more quickly and efficiently. In this state, learning can even feel like having fun, where studying and mastering something new become an effortless and pleasurable experience.

It is true that some of the best educational systems (like the Russian school, for example) are based on a strict, disciplined approach to learning, where competition is the upmost motivation for success and the strongest students are stretched to the maximum.  Such systems have produced amazing results, but the weakest emotionally often give up, unable to progress and develop.

Whilst Piano-Yoga® aims to help students to perfect their technique this is only a tool, as our foremost motivation is to make the piano playing process as enjoyable and pleasurable as possible, within the wider framework of the student’s lifestyle.  In order to do this not only do we instruct students specifically in the Piano-Yoga® technique, but we also show them how to efficiently schedule their practice sessions, and how to take care of their health and their body in order to get the most out of their practice and create a positive mindset.

I like to address this issue by using ideas taken from ancient Indian Ayurvedic philosophy – the traditional Hindu system of medicine, based on the idea of bringing balance to the body using diet, herbal treatments, yogic postures and breathing.  In line with the discipline of Ayurveda we ask students to pay attention to what they eat, ask them to monitor how they feel each day, and if they are not happy with the results we teach them how to change their sense of well-being, correcting it through various exercises, simple posture adjustments and the use of aromatherapy.  We very much encourage our students to create a practice environment full of clean energy, and where the student feels comfortable, safe, private and nurtured.

Would you like to try this for yourself?  Here’s what you can do in just one week:

  • Notice when your energy is at its best and try to practise at that time

Are you a morning person or evening? Is the afternoon the best or the worst time for you? Try to practise when you brain is at its best and your muscles are not stiff.

  • Find out if there is a regular time you can practise and, if possible, stick to it.

Getting into a routine will help the body to feel comfortable in its environment and will enable you to concentrate faster and more acutely.

  • Try not to practise on an empty stomach, but also not on a full one.  According to how you feel we recommend using the main principles of Ayurveda

According to Ayurvedic principles a person can either be TAMASIC (sluggish/slow), RAJASIC (hyperactive/fast) or SATTVIC (balanced) depending on their current state of mind.  If you are feeling unsettled you will most certainly be feeling either Tamasic or Rajasic and therefore should aim to bring yourself back into a Sattvic (balanced) state.

Decide how you are feeling at this present moment: TAMASIC or RAJASIC?

For people in TAMASIC (sluggish/slow) state I recommend:

Going for a brisk walk before practice, if possible.

Playing the piano at a moderate or fast tempo but not too slowly!

Eating a moderate amount of RAJASIC foods before practice to induce more energy into your system (chocolate, tea, coffee (but not too much of these, otherwise you may find yourself in a rajasic state) as well as fish, eggs, chilli peppers and strongly-flavored herbs and spices to help bring yourself into a state of balance. Do some physical exercise. Yoga is excellent as long as it is a vinyasa sequence (dynamic flowing yoga practice).  This encourages better blood circulation and warms up the muscles.

For people in a RAJASIC (hyperactive/nervous) state I would recommend:

Going for a slow walk or doing some simple slow stretches, mainly with forward bends (make sure that you do not have any back issues and know how to do stretches safely).

Playing everything on the piano slower then usual. Eat some TAMASIC food before the practice time to induce a calming effect on the body (i.e. meat, cooked vegetables, mushrooms, dried, tinned and frozen fruit).

Practising slow, deep breathing as it has an excellent calming effect on the body. (The yogic breath technique of Ujjayi is particularly good if you are familiar with it – otherwise I would recommend initial guidance from a qualified yoga teacher).

Trying to meditate and rest more between short practice sessions.

  • Make sure that you feel comfortable in your environment

In the morning have plenty of fresh air in the room (no dust, as not only is it bad for your health, but it is terrible for the energy of the place).  In the evening make sure that the room is warm and well lit, but that the lights are not too bright, as this can make you feel tired.

  • Do some physical exercises before your piano practice

Doing some physical work can do wonders for your body and mind. Either walking, running, yoga, pilates or swimming: anything that keeps your body alive, well toned and oxygenated. 10–15 minutes of exercise before your piano practice can dramatically improve your playing and your ability to concentrate!

  • Have some fluids by your side

Preferably have some water (ideally at room temperature, unless you feel hot) or some tea (herbal would be the best, but if you are feeling tired sometimes black tea or coffee can help – make sure that these do not make you too over-active).

  • Use aromatherapy as this can do wonders from your practice

Before embarking on the use of aromatherapy, I strongly suggest that you do some homework, find out what oils and smells you like and how they make you feel. The oils could either be applied to your skin as a cream or used as a room spray or in oil burners. You really need to know what products you are using and which method is the most effective for you, as it can create a very strong effect and this can really elevate your mood, improve your concentration or simply make you feel happier!

I use room sprays the most, and these days create my own fragrances by mixing various oils.  It is so simple: fill a glass bottle with water and add various oils that you like; they usually change with seasons, the time of day and my mood, hence I have many different bottles. Use a diffuser to spray these out.  My favorite morning mix at the moment is a combination of cypress, lemon grass, peppermint and lime.

Below are a few examples of how different oils can help you, but really you need to check out yourself what works for you.  There are endless possibilities for creating various smells.

    • Bergamot helps to fight anxiety, confusion, depression, relieve headaches, and reduce irritability and stress.
    • Pepper is great for fighting apathy, relieving colds, cramps, flu, muscle ache, shock, creating calm and boosting energy.
    • Ylang-ylang helps to fight depression, stress, improve sleep and enhance mood.
    • Rose helps with anxiety, depression and fear, creating nurturing and positive feelings.
    • Clary Sage helps to fight hyperactivity, improve sleep, avoid panic attacks, and induce peace of mind.

Try to pay attention to these few ideas and see how they can improve your practice!

Having said all this, it is important to have a clear goal (know what you would like to achieve from each practice session) and maintain a planned practice process. Try to be undisturbed during your sessions.  And always approach your practice thinking constructively: don’t see problems, only solutions!

Here is a little video about our Piano-Yoga® Retreat in Cyprus, which we have created as the ultimate holistic approach to piano learning.  It includes piano masterclasses and seminars, yoga exercises, food tasting, wonderful sightseeing excursions and communication with inspiring, like-minded people!

Enjoy!

Namaste (‘I bow to you.’ Sanscrit)

GéNIA

Comment » | GéNIA's Articles, Piano-Yoga®, Practical Advice

How to Get the Most out of Your Piano Practice

August 4th, 2011 — 11:08am

On our forthcoming Cyprus retreat we are going to cover many areas relating to the piano and piano practice, but if you cannot join us there, here is a little bit of something that may help you to improve your personal practice time.

Many pianists practise as much as they can, but often complain that they are not good enough or they just can’t get it right. Also, the majority of us simply do not have enough time to practise, full stop. Therefore we might think ‘if we have only 10-15 minutes a day, what’s the point?; It is not enough time to improve, so why bother?’ And this repeats day after day, with continuously growing frustration that we are not good enough and never have the time to practise, therefore we will never improve… Hence millions of frustrating pianists waking up every morning all over the world.

Here are several simple ideas that I hope will help you to deal with this issue, if you need to:

1. Accept that you do not have enough time to practise.

2. Commit to the belief that you want to improve, that deep down in your heart you know that you want to be better and that you are committed to it.

3. Change the quality of your practice time. Even if you have 10 minutes a day, you can learn a lot if you change your attitude and state of mind:

a) Ban all your negative thoughts from your head during the time of your practice.

b) Centre yourself before practice: ideally do some yoga, but if there is no time or you are not a yoga practitioner:

i) Drink a glass of water (room temperature, unless you’re feeling particularly hot!)

ii) Do the tree pose if you can for 1 minute on each side. If not, sit down with your back straight, close your eyes and start breathing deeply from your diaphragm. Try to breathe slowly and avoid breathing from the top part of your chest.

iii) Either meditate if you can, or try to imagine that your spine is like a stem growing from the earth up to the sky, and focus on it, whilst trying to lengthen it. Make sure that the crown of your head is directed towards the sky. Sit like this for 3 minutes. If time permits, 10 minutes would be even better. If you need to, support your back with a cushion.

iv) Once this is done, go to your piano. Plan in advance the time that you are going to spend on it and stick to it. Make sure that your phone is switched off, the room is warm and there is a plenty of soft light, so you don’t have to strain your eyes.

Now this is your practice time. If you get yourself in this state every time before you start your practice, after 10 days you will be able already to notice how the quality of your practice time has improved.

GéNIA reading score

And here is something else worth keeping in mind: for those times when you want to practice but don’t have access to a piano you still can do some great practice drawing on the ideas above and sitting with the music in front of you, doing the practice in your head rather then at the instrument. This is much harder, but is incredibly effective.

It is also important to know exactly what you are working on during each practice session, but this is a slightly different topic for a future blog…

If these topics are something that you simply must learn more about, you are welcome to join us on our Cyprus retreat on 19-25 September to get the full insight into our philosophy. Visit www.piano-yoga.com/retreats/cyprus-retreat.php for more information, call into our monthly Skype clinic or you can even book a Skype Piano-Yoga® session!

Enjoy your practice,

GéNIA

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