TIPS & TRICKS
GéNIA, creator of Piano-Yoga®:
"These tips are based on the questions most regularly asked by my students"
Send us your questions and we will publish and answer them on this page.
DO I NEED TO PRACTICE YOGA IN ORDER TO DO PIANO-YOGA®?
It is not necessary to practice yoga to do Piano-Yoga®. But of course Yoga can be beneficial for everyone, especially for people like pianists who sit for hours and extensively use the upper part of their body (though always check with your doctor first if you have a medical condition). You may discover that after doing Piano-Yoga® you would like to try a yoga class with a qualified teacher.
DOES PIANO-YOGA® INVOLVE PHYSICAL YOGA POSTURES?
Piano-Yoga® only mentions a few physical yoga postures that may help some pianists with their playing (See Useful Props). However, as a qualified B.W.Y. (British Wheel of Yoga) accredited teacher I sometimes suggest yoga postures to my students to help them but in the capacity of my work as a yoga teacher
I FEEL UNSETTLED AND AGITATED ON THE DAY OF MY PUBLIC PERFORMANCE?
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.
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 in this present moment: TAMASIC or RAJASIC?
For people in TAMASIC state I recommend:
Going for a brisk walk.
Playing the piano at a moderate tempo not too slow.
Eating a moderate amount of RAJASIC foods to induce more energy into your system (chocolate, tea, coffee, (but not too much otherwise you may find yourself in a rajasic state), fish, eggs, chilli peppers, strongly flavored herbs and spices.
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.
Play everything on the piano slowly, and not to practice too much.
Eat some TAMASIC food to induce a calming effect on the body (i.e. meat, cooked vegetables, mushrooms, dried fruits, canned and frozen).
Practice slow, deep breathing (in particular the yogic breath technique of Ujjayi breath if you are familiar with it, otherwise I would recommend initial guidance from a qualified yoga teacher) as it has an excellent calming effect on the body.
Try to rest and, if you can, meditate.
WHAT SORT OF FOODS WILL PROVE HELPFUL ON THE DAY OF A PUBLIC PERFORMANCE?
First you need to decide how you are feeling. According to Ayurvedic principles (the traditional Hindu system of medicine, based on the idea of bringing balance to the body using diet, herbal treatment, yogic postures and breathing), a person can either be TAMASIC (sluggish/slow), RAJASIC (hyperactive/fast) or SATTVIC (balanced) depending on their current state of mind.
Are you feeling RAJASIC (hyper, restless) or TAMASIC (sluggish, sleepy, numb)?
The aim of the diet is to bring you into a SATTVIC (balanced) state. Eating SATTVIC foods (grains, cereals, fresh fruit and vegetables, honey, nuts, seeds and herbs, including herbal teas) can help, but to change your state you need to eat food from the OPPOSITE energy type to bring the body back into balance.
So if you are full of RAJASIC energy eat moderate amounts of TAMASIC food: cooked vegetables, dried fruits, canned food.
And the opposite, if you are full of TAMASIC energy eat moderate amounts of RAJASIC foods: chocolate, tea, coffee, fish, eggs, chilli peppers, strongly flavored herbs and spices.
If you are in a SATTVIC (balanced) state, which is highly unlikely before a concert or exam performance, eat SATTVIC foods.
* Ayurveda: the traditional Hindu system of medicine, based on the idea of bringing balance to the body using diet, herbal treatment, yogic postures and breathing.
I PLAY WELL AT HOME BUT WHEN I GO TO MY PIANO LESSON WHY DOES IT ALL GO TO PIECES?
Don't be discouraged. It happens to many of students.
The reason this happens is because you have a good memory! It remembers not only what you actually practiced but also the environment where you played that particular piece: the walls, the furniture, pictures, plants, etc. So when you go to another unfamiliar place, your memory cannot initially recognize the setting and starts questioning the whole process.
To make you more confident I suggest that you play as much as possible in various surroundings, preferably as unfamiliar and as often as you can.
MY LEFT HAND IS NOT AS GOOD AS MY RIGHT HAND?
Don't worry as it is one of the most common problems pianists have.
I suggest that you include in your practice the book "Training of the Left Hand" Op. 89 by Hermann Berens. You could also benefit if you work on these exercises using a metronome!
I HAVE VERY LITTLE TIME TO PRACTICE SO DON'T WANT TO SPEND IT ON SCALES AND ARPEGGIOS?
Well, do you really not have the time to practice or do you see your practice as a "chore"?
For busy people I would recommend doing at least 10 minutes of exercises everyday from the Piano-Yoga® Transform Your Hands: A complete ten week course of piano exercises.
Straight after that, when your hands and fingers feel warm and limber, practice just one or two scales. You might notice that it may be a little easier to play them.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I PRACTICE PIANO-YOGA® EXERCISES?
To get the full benefits of Piano-Yoga® it is recommended that you practice it daily. Please see the How to use section. However if you do not have time for daily practice or missed a session you can jump in any time you want. If you are an advanced player and have mastered the whole course it is worth revisiting it from time to time when you feel that your hands need an extra boost in exercising.
WILL PLAYING WITH FLAT FINGERS PREVENT ME FROM PLAYING WITH CURVED FINGERS?
Of course not. Pianist's fingers should be strong and flexible (to an extent). You should be able to use various techniques and articulation whilst playing different pieces. Personally I noticed with my practice that after playing for a while with flat fingers it feels more natural for a hand to go back into a rounded traditional piano playing shape.
WHAT DOES PIANO-YOGA® SUGGEST FOR PEOPLE WHO DO NOT HAVE TIME TO PRACTICE?
If you do need to find some time - even 5 minutes regularly will be more beneficial then 30 minutes once a week. Having said that some of the exercises in the Preliminary Section can be practiced anywhere: in a park, while watching TV, while sitting in traffic, etc. as they do not require a piano you just need concentration for a few minutes. Please see Preliminary Chapter for more information
ARE PIANO-YOGA® EXERCISES BETTER THEN SCALES AND ARPEGGIOS?
No, they are not better they are just different. In fact they compliment scales and arpeggios. Piano-Yoga® exercises prepare the hand for any technical work. I always recommend my students start their practice with Piano-Yoga® exercises and then practice a few scales.
Also see question above on: WILL PLAYING WITH FLAT FINGERS PREVENT ME FROM PLAYING WITH CURVED FINGERS?
WILL PIANO-YOGA® MAKE ME TOO RELAXED?
If by saying "too relaxed" you mean being in a more TAMASIC state (See question: 'I feel unsettled and agitated on the day of my public performance?') i.e. feeling sleepy and apathetic you can always correct this through doing RAJASIC activities and eating the type of foods which will bring you back into balance (See question: What sort of foods will prove helpful on the day of a public performance?). Having said this, so far it is not something I have experienced myself and I have not had any feedback from any of my students or pianists, who regularly practice Piano-Yoga®, that they have become " too relaxed". In fact many people have said Piano-Yoga® has helped them become more focused and alert.