In a time where our perceived value is often measured by how productive or efficient or visible on social media we are, it’s so easy to feel lost in our screens and disconnected from the natural, social environment that we’re a part of. And with feelings of stress, anxiety and depression so common now, it’s no wonder tools like yoga and meditation that help to counteract these feelings are so accessible.
But while yoga and meditation have helped so many reconnect with themselves and others, they’re not for everyone. The thought of doing just one downward dog in a room full of flexible yogi’s is quite scary for some, which is why we want to show you how many of the same benefits physical, emotional, psychological and social benefits can be received from an acting class.
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8 SHARED BENEFITS OF ACTING & YOGA
Acting forces you to be fully present in the moment.
In an actor’s training, working on the craft often begins with relaxation through breathing. The quiet that comes from focusing on the breath allows students to listen to themselves and their bodies, a place necessary to begin learning. And just like the spiritual yoga student, benefits of the breath work learned in acting class extend well beyond the classroom; learning to relax on cue is an invaluable calming tool that’s helpful in so many other areas of life.
Acting teaches how to be grounded in our bodies
Yoga is such a wonderful teacher into the human condition because of the interconnectedness it allows between mind, body and spirit, beginning with a calming of the mind and grounding within the body. Feeling calm and physically centred is just as important for actors so that they have a strong base from which to use their instincts effectively and explore different physical and emotional depths. Actors are taught early on how to be aware of the physical postures, tensions and habits they’ve accrued over a lifetime so that they can explore different ranges of movement and bring their physical bodies into line with their mental and emotional instruments.
Acting pushes you out of your comfort zone
Many male yogis will agree that poses needing flexible hamstrings are the worst – almost impossible! But each yoga pose is designed to strengthen and stretch different parts of the body – so normally it’s the ones we enjoy the least that our bodies need the most. It’s similar with acting. When actors challenge themselves to push the boundaries, get a bit uncomfortable and learn new skills that stretch them, they go from good to great.
Acting teaches self-awareness
Having self-awareness is such an important quality for living a full life, because it allows people to explore who they are, what they are capable of and what they deem essential. The stillness created by connection with the breath makes space for the spiritual yoga student to develop self-awareness, and it’s also cultivated during acting training. Self-awareness allows an actor to learn to listen to their own intuition, other actors and their audience.
Acting inspires consistency and a commitment to learning
A yogi who’s practised multiple times a week for years will have a strong core, excellent posture and flexible hips – all factors that make yoga even more enjoyable and beneficial for the body. But this doesn’t happen right away. Before this success came a continual commitment to showing up even on the bad days, pushing through sore muscles, frustrations and embarrassment. In acting it’s the same. To forge an acting career or even just grow into a good actor, a commitment to consistently showing up and training is a must. And, like yoga, the more one does this the easier and more enjoyable acting training will become.
Acting encourages self-acceptance
In most yoga class there are 1 or 2 yogis with perfect posture and backs so flexible it looks as if they’ll be able to kiss their toes. But comparing ourselves to these people is a waste of time. Yoga isn’t a contest – all that matters is what’s happening on your own mat. As is with acting. When peers do wonderfully in class or come with the news they’ve landed a big job, instincts lead us to compare and those feelings are natural. The success of others can be admired and learned from, but accepting where we are at and staying focused on our own path is the only way to success.
Acting fuels self-love
A good day at yoga feels like gliding through a pond with swan-like grace, and a bad day like dragging a heavy sack of potatoes of through mud. This is just the nature of life. But even on the shitty days, yogis are asked to bow and honour themselves for showing up. There will inevitably be bad days in an acting career, too. Memories fail, nerves take over, but getting out of bed to deal with weaknesses and fears head on should be applauded every single time.
Acting is a vehicle for connecting with others
Some yoga students prefer to attend a class, and others lie a mat out on the bedroom floor and get moving in their pyjamas. While the latter can be simpler, cheaper and sometimes easier, the comfort and connection that comes from leaving the house to flow with fellow yogis under the guidance of a teacher is a better route for connecting with others. In the same way, attending an acting class can immediately relieve lonely feelings that come from being sat behind a screen. And, on a much deeper level, a good piece of theatre, TV or film can connect you to others through your performance, which can impact your life in amazing ways.
Did this make you feel excited about acting? If you’d like to experience acting’s transformative powers or just feel a bit more mindful, free and loose head on over to PAC’s Adult Acting Class page to find a path that suits you.
Want to hear more about the spiritual nature of acting? Hear Corinna Manisha Lenneis speak on the interconnectedness of acting and meditation here: