Physical Warm-Ups

People, Woman, Yoga, Meditation, Fitness

As performers we would like to be present and”at the moment.” That phrase is thrown around a lot, but what I mean by”in the moment” is taking in the information that’s currently happening. One way we can encourage this is by opening up our bodies until we get on stage. All performers should do a physical warm-up of some kind before they reach the stage for a speech or performance. Stretching and opening our bodies helps us to shed the accumulated experiences of our day so that we can perform at our best.
By no means is this list exhaustive, but it’s a good place to begin if you are just starting out as a public speaker or celebrity. In addition, it is an effective list should you need to warm-up but are short on time. In all these exercises I encourage you to breathe in and out of your mouth, which is the most economical and easiest way to breathe. Focus on breathing into your low belly (the area between your navel and cool points.) You want your breath to be flowing easily in and out with no stoppage in the bottom of the exhale or top of the inhale.
Jaw massage: I like to begin my warm-ups with this exercise: take both of your hands and clasp them together, bring your elbows to your right and left side of your jaw and rub in the muscle that’s just before the jaw hinge. You might find this to be slightly uncomfortable or painful. As a matter of fact, if it isn’t you are probably not in the ideal spot. Most of us hold plenty of tension here. This is the last place of holding prior to”information” leaves our lips and is out in the world. When there’s something we want to say but feel as though we can not or shouldn’t, it often has”stored” within our jaw muscles. Remember when you’re doing this exercise to release your jaw and breathe in and out of the mouth.
Roll down: In a standing position, bend your knees slightly and bring your toes hips-width apart. (This is most likely going to be narrower than you think it should be.) Bring your chin to your chest and then slowly roll down the entire length of your spine, go vertebra by vertebra when at all possible. When you’re completely released in this place have a few deep breaths into your stomach and low back. Feel your stomach expand and discharge against your thighs. If you would like to deepen this stretch, grip opposite elbows and continue to breathe deeply. Stay in this position for approximately 30 seconds, then slowly roll back up through the backbone. Should you feel dizzy, place your index finger a foot in front of your face and focus on it before your dizziness subsides. You want your pointer fingers pointing towards the sky. Wiggle your rib-cage up from your internal organs and feel that the space that is created. Notice how your ribs expand as you breathe and release as you breathe out. Remember to keep your body facing toward the opposite wall so you’re not falling down towards your feet. Repeat this stretch on the other hand.
Hip Opener: Bring your legs a bit wider than hips distance apart. Bend your legs fully so you are in a squat position. If at all possible, your feet and heels should be rooted into the floor. Try to keep a long spine in this position. Breathe in and out of the mouth, maintaining the pose for 30 seconds to a minute.
Tongue Twister: The final thing I like to do before going on stage is tongue-twisters! If I am pressed for time and can only do one it is generally going to be”My Sister Sally.” The reason being is that the”s” is the most likely sound to be sloppy in our speech. Having as much clarity as possible with our”s” makes all of our speech more crisp. You can find the full text of”My Sister Sally” in Edith Skinner’s”Talk With Distinction.”
I like the development of the warm-up because it warms up the whole body: the jaw, the spine, the ribs, the thighs and the tongue. All these exercises are linked by the constant breath that you keep throughout the warm-up. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comments and leave any warm-ups which you find useful!


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