Yoga Techniques for Preventing Performance Anxiety

Singers often face multiple difficulties during their education and career. Performance anxiety is an example of one impediment that might prevent singers from reaching their full potentials. The mental and physical symptoms may include: difficultly remembering the text and staging, and a rapid heart rate that might negatively affect breath support. Lister, Thomas and Emmons suggest that different yoga and meditation techniques often provide mental and physical freedom for singers so that they can perform at their best.

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Emmons and Thomas suggest the singer be aware of emotional responses so they may be better understood. Singers might experience doubt, which can possibly present issues during a performance. The physical response to doubt may cause the singer to become anxious and result in a lack of confidence. The authors suggest that how a performer perceives these messages can determine how he might react. The singer’s objective should be to consider how to change the way way he views himself. The authors suggest that a small alteration in thinking might alleviate unwanted anxiety.

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Emmons and Thomas state that singers may sometimes think of anxiety as being externally caused. The authors suggest that singers should come to understand that apprehension and nervousness are often internal. They explain that the negative thoughts are not necessarily forced upon the singer by outside sources. Teachers, directors, and colleagues often contribute to the agitation, but the singer should realize that anxiety is self-generated and can always be controlled. The authors state:

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Anxiety results from the singer’s perception of an imbalance between what is demanded of the singer and the singer’s feelings regarding his own capability to achieve what is being demanded. They also suggest that singers may benefit from a limited amount of anxiety to achieve their goals, but having too much can produce an unpleasant experience. Singers might find that a positive performance may result from a balance of positive and negative anxiety. A small amount of nervousness is beneficial and allows the singer to not become overly confident. The authors explain that singers often benefit from controlling and managing performance anxiety, allowing for consistent and enjoyable performances.

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How does the singer identify performance anxiety? Emmons and Thomas point out that there are two kinds of anxiety. The first, cognitive anxiety, refers to mental anxiety, which relates to the nervousness created by a situation, which may result in a depletion of self-assurance. The authors suggest this genre of anxiety may commence days and weeks before the performance. The second type of anxiety the authors examined is somatic anxiety. This type of anxiety focuses on the physical body. Symptoms the singer may feel are stomach discomfort, sweating of the palms and the sensation of having to relieve the body of fluids. The authors state that this type of anxiety occurs closer to the performance and may lessen once the performance begins.