Tag: Yoga


‘The Kate Way’ – Guest blog post by Kate Lovell

May 25th, 2017 — 8:11am

Kate Lovell © Genevieve Stevenson-1-10Kate Lovell is a Yoga Teacher and Holistic Health coach based in London.  Kate grew up in a small town near Boston in a musical family where she learned to play the piano, but her passion for languages and Europe brought her to France, then Italy and eventually London to live and work.  While working in the media, Kate trained to teach yoga and studied nutrition and holistic health in order to turn her passion for well-being into a career.  She discovered Piano-Yoga® and my teaching approach quite by chance while looking for a piano teacher in London.  Kate loves teaching yoga to beginners and believes in making yoga accessible to everyone.  She equally loves offering support to her coaching clients to help them develop habits and awareness that feed a healthy approach to eating and living for the rest of their lives.  She weaves her insights into monthly newsletters and her blog so that more people can help incorporate healthy habits into their lives. Read on below to hear about Kate’s experiences playing the piano and visit her website for further advice on health, nutrition and well-being! GéNIA

 

It’s been a long time since I have been called upon to perform a piano piece in front of an audience, but I can remember the nerves and anxiety that accompanied my bi-annual recitals like it was yesterday.  I started playing the piano around the age of nine and performed in recitals up until the age of twenty, a time period that unfortunately preceded my many years practising yoga and studying nutrition as a means towards improving my well-being and reducing stress.  I have been teaching yoga for a decade and health coaching just slightly shorter than that, and believe that if only I had the tools and knowledge I do now to help me stay grounded and centred, I would have welcomed more opportunities to perform and perhaps have even enjoyed the experience.

 

I have always been interested in the food-mood connection and how what we eat affects how we feel.  If people drink coffee or consume sugar as a pick-me-up, then surely there are foods that also do the opposite?  And the opposite of feeling overly stimulated and jumpy is exactly what one needs to perform well.  I remember my piano teacher telling me to eat something that made me feel calm before a recital where I was playing one of my most challenging pieces yet.  She recalled an incident where she and a close friend who were performing a four-hand piano piece decided to have a coffee together before going on stage.  The performance was like a car crash – they couldn’t control the tempo and their hands were shaking from the caffeine.  Not all of us responds to caffeine with the same sensitivity, but often if our stress hormones have been activated and our autonomic nervous systems sent into fight-or-flight mode (for example, because of stage fright or fear of forgetting one’s music), consuming foods or beverages that are ‘yang’ (energetic) in nature just adds fuel to the fire.  Imagine Flight of the Bumblebee but inside your body!

 

With nutrition, there is no one way.  We are all programmed a bit differently and require different diets depending on our body types and lifestyles (as is taught in Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine).  However, I generally I find that given our stressful lifestyles and the increasing demands placed upon us due to technology (in the case of city-dwellers especially), we are living in more of a yang (energetic) state than a yin (cool) state and thus require foods that are more calming or ‘sattvic’ in nature to balance these energies.  Calming foods are generally easy to digest, have nutrients that steady the nervous system and have textures and temperatures that are soothing to the body and mind.

 

So if, like me, you get really nervous, agitated and flustered before a performance, consider some yoga practices but also think about what foods you could eat to help reverse that feeling. Below are just a few suggestions that work for me:

  • Avoid any caffeinated beverages like coffee or tea, and opt for a herbal tea like chamomile and plenty of pure, room-temperature water to stay hydrated (but maybe not too much just before going on stage!)
  • Have a warm, nourishing and fresh cooked meal with root vegetables (because they come from the ground, they help you stay grounded!) before performing – something like baked sweet potatoes with some brown rice (contain Serotonin) or a warm porridge with nut milk, cashews, almonds and brazil nuts (their Omega 3 Fatty Acids feed the brain)
  • If you get a really upset stomach when you’re nervous a warm vegetable or chicken broth could just the thing to calm your tummy and feed your brain
  • I often drink a warm nut milk with a bit of ghee and some spices like cardamom to help sooth me before I sleep and find this is also good when I want to feel more grounded
  • Avoid refined sugar and high sugar energy drinks, instead have fruit like bananas (good for Potassium to support brain function) and kiwis (good for Vitamin C) but keep in mind that too many raw foods might challenge your digestion

Visit Kate’s website here for further information on health coaching, well-being and yoga.

Comment » | Guest Blogger, Practical Advice, Yoga

Back Release Mini Series by GéNIA: 3 Minute Shoulder Release

May 7th, 2014 — 11:44am


Back Release Mini Series by GéNIA: 3 Minute Shoulder Release

Very often I see musicians who suffer from shoulder pain, but instead of dealing with the issue, they ignore it, hoping that the pain will go away. Unfortunately, this rarely happens. Instead the tension in the shoulders keeps building up and, if not dealt with correctly and in a timely manner, could affect many areas of the body: in the arms, which start experiencing tension that prevents musicians from playing freely; in the neck, by creating pain that in turn could lead to heightened blood pressure, ‘tired’ eyes and even double vision; and in the lower back, by creating extra stress in this area, (which supports the entire spine) and therefore destabilises the whole sitting or standing position of the player. These problems are common for all types of musicians: pianists, string players, wind players, percussionists and even singers.

However all these grim side-effects can be avoided if musicians start taking care of their body on a daily basis, treating these exercises like ‘maintenance work’. And knowing that no one has much time these days, I decided to introduce a short Blog ‘Back Release Exercise Mini Series’, that can change the way you feel about you body, open it up, release stress and tension and invigorate!

However, please note, if you are already suffering severely from tension in your upper back and shoulders, I recommend you see a specialist first – osteopath, back specialist, cranio-sacral therapist or just a masseur. If the condition is too acute. we do need external help and it will be a waste of time doing the exercises and could even risk doing damage.

Also it is important to know about any dis-alignments you may have, as some of the exercises may not be appropriate. For example, if you are suffering from a frozen shoulder, please do not do any exercises that work with the shoulder area without the supervision of a specialist, and if you used to suffer from this condition, approach with the caution, do it slowly and always with bent arms. Therefore it is always good to contact a specialist before you try new exercises – whether it is yoga, pilates or the little mini exercises which I introduce in these series.

Here is a simple Shoulder Release exercise, which would be great to do either before or in between your practice. To start, try to keep your hands wide, as it is easier, and you do not have to keep your arms straight; bent is fine, as long as your shoulders are down and in line with the body. This shoulder release exercises also suits anyone who sits at the computer for prolonged periods. It’s one of my favorites, and only takes a few minutes!

 

Shoulder release

BENEFITS: Stretches the spine. Opens the shoulder blades. Warms up the upper-body. Improves circulation. Opens and stretches the front body. Invigorating.

Props: Yoga belt or tea towel

  • Sit on a chair or in a kneeling position, take hold of a yoga belt or tea towel, stretch your arms out in front of you slightly more than a shoulder width apart
  • On an inward breath, with straight elbows, start to slowly raise the arms until they are in line with the ears
  • Try to keep the shoulders down and the chest in, and on an exhale bring the arms down. Repeat 4 times
  • Do this one more time, and this time, try to keep your arms raised for 5 seconds or more. For more adventures practitioners, try to take your hands further behind your ears, if you can manage this.

 

If you are suffering from any medical conditions, and in particular frozen shoulder, neck pain, high blood pressure or any severe back pain, I do not recommend that you do this exercise. If you just feel stiff, you can bend the elbows and take your hands as wide as possible.

Do this exercise before or in between your music practice or prolonged computer sessions. Enjoy!

Photographer: Pamela Troni
Model: Trudi Oliveiro
Photos: © Piano-Yoga Ltd

Click HERE to book your place on the Piano-Yoga® retreat at King’s Place on 18th May

Click HERE to book your place on the Piano-Yoga® retreat for the ISM in Liverpool on 11th May

 

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Piano-Yoga® London Day & Concert, 29th June 2013

June 18th, 2013 — 3:27pm

Piano-Yoga London Day & Concert, 29th June 2013

Click on the poster above or HERE to find out more!

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Piano-Yoga® 30 Second Tips No. 2

April 9th, 2013 — 10:00am

In this video, GéNIA demonstrates how to properly align yourself using various Piano-Yoga® techniques before you start playing. Recorded at the Piano-Yoga® Kings Place Retreat 2012.

These bite sized videos contain essential advice on piano playing from the founder of Piano-Yoga® itself, virtuoso concert pianist GéNIA, with all the material taken from the large database of Piano-Yoga® workshops, retreats and presentations that took place in the last few years.

Our next Piano-Yoga® Retreat is at Kings Place, London on the 21st April 2013:
http://www.kingsplace.co.uk/whats-on-book-tickets/music/piano-yoga-retreat-with-g-nia-0

Video Production & Audio Production: Richard McDonald

Click HERE to view Piano-Yoga®’s other videos.

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Piano-Yoga® Retreat Competition!

April 3rd, 2013 — 9:43am

Win a ticket to our forthcoming Piano-Yoga® Retreat on the 21st April, 10:30am at Kings Place, London by answering the following question:

Q: Which museum has a plaster cast of Chopin’s hand?

Please email your answer to info@piano-yoga.com. We will accept submissions up-to midnight on Friday 12th April 2013. The winner will be selected randomly and notified on Tuesday 16th April 2013. The ticket is non-transferable.

To be eligible for this competition please include the following information:

  • Your Postal Address
  • Your Contact Telephone Number
  • Choose from the following that best describes your musical level: Beginner | Intermediate | Advance | Teacher | Professional Musician

Answer YES or NO to the following questions:

  • Would you like to hear from Piano-Yoga® and Kings Place about future events via post?
  • Would you like to hear from Piano-Yoga® and Kings Place about future events via email?

To view the event please visit the Kings Place website HERE.

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Transforming yourself through piano playing. Part 2.

March 24th, 2013 — 8:00am

With the first student, who had a problem with his right hand (see the Transforming yourself through playing the piano, Part 1), it was not possible for him quickly to change his personality by becoming proactive, reaching out and acting as an extrovert individual. In his case, I felt that it would be better to start working on his technique at the piano. I gave him a lot of exercises for his right hand (Dohnányi and Brahms, to name a few), but also suggested to do some first proactive steps in his lifestyle, which, in his case, was to start going to the gym and doing some weight lifting, as it was the place where he felt least uncomfortable and where he could start building up the strength in his left hand.

Hence my approach was different here: first we were trying to fix the problems with the hand, hoping, that it would positively reflect on his personality, helping him to eliminate shyness and become more extroverted.

What was interesting in each of these cases was that both students showed signs of positive development, not only in their techniques, but also in their personalities. The girl who was very critical became softer and creative, whilst the student who was shy and introverted started to communicate more freely with people around him, and become more socially active,

If it had not been for the piano, would they have noticed these qualities in their character? Would they have addressed these issues? We will never know, but here is a beautiful example of how playing the piano can not only bring you enjoyment in a musical sense, but also help you to develop your own personality.

Have you noticed which side of your body is stronger and which one is weaker? Have you recently had an inquiry that lead to problems with one side? How much do you know about your body? I would highly encourage you to look into this and derive your own conclusions! And by reading this blog you are already on your way to self-discovery!

Written by GéNIA

Russian virtuoso pianist, GéNIA, is an acclaimed pioneer on the classical music scene, with numerous TV and radio appearances. The founder of Piano-Yoga® , ‘the first entirely new piano technique to emerge in over 50 years’, GéNIA was taught by her great-grandmother, the renowned pedagogue Regina Horowitz (sister of pianist Vladimir Horowitz) and studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Her eclectic repertoire embraces classical and multimedia projects. With releases for Black Box and Nonclassical labels, she worked with numerous key figures in the music industry. A visionary pedagogue, GéNIA also founded the Piano-Yoga® Music School in London and gradated  from the Life Centre, London in 2008 as qualified BWY Yoga Teacher. GéNIA’s next appearance is on Sunday 24th March 4.30-5:30pm  presenting ‘Improving Yourself’ at the ‘All About Piano” Festival at Institut Français, 17 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2DT . View the webpage here. 

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At the Piano Video Series with GéNIA – Part 5 of 6

March 19th, 2013 — 10:03am

Frances Wilson, who blogs as The Cross-Eyed Pianist, interviews GéNIA, London based concert pianist and founder of Piano-Yoga® at Steinway Hall, London.

In this interview they discuss GéNIA’s forthcoming projects, favorite pianists, their thoughts on up and coming young pianists, GéNIA’s love of Rachmaninoff and the unmasking of several piano myths!

Websites:
http://www.piano-yoga.com/
http://crosseyedpianist.com/

Click HERE to view Piano-Yoga®’s other videos.

Comment » | Piano-Yoga®, Practical Advice

Want to work for Piano-Yoga®?

August 23rd, 2012 — 10:55am

Piano-Yoga PR JobWe have a new PR position available! Click the image or HERE for more information and to apply.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

The Piano-Yoga® Team.

 

 

 

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Piano-Yoga® Workshop at Chappell of Bond Street, London

August 10th, 2012 — 9:16am

Piano-Yoga Chappell In this workshop, Russian virtuoso pianist and founder of Piano-Yoga®, GéNIA, will introduce the holistic aspects of her Piano-Yoga® technique, described by Yoga and Health Magazine as ‘the 21-century answer to playing the piano’.  The session will include a demonstration of the Piano-Yoga® exercises which lie at the heart of this unique method, as well as giving an insight into its personalised anatomical approaches to piano technique. Using principles from Ayurveda, the workshop will look at different body types as well as the nervous system, and explore how these can be harnessed to help enhance piano technique and speed up the learning process. It will also feature relaxation techniques recommended by Piano- Yoga® for between, before and after piano practice. Our aim is to spread the joy of learning the piano, as well as increase quality in piano playing on all levels, whether for professional or amateur pianists of any age. Participants will be encouraged to try out some of our exercises – many of which can be easily implemented by piano teachers. We look forward to sharing them with you in this friendly and relaxed setting!

Click HERE to find out more!

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Piano-Yoga® Schott Music Retreat COMPETITION!

July 5th, 2012 — 11:52am

Piano-Yoga Retreat

Win a ticket for the Piano-Yoga® Retreat at Schott Music on Sunday 15th of July by answering the following question:
Q: Name two famous classical musicians who came from Odessa, Ukraine.
Email your answer to info@piano-yoga.com. The winner will be selected randomly and notified by Friday 13th July.

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