Relaxation Techniques for Actors

Start with a simple primary exercise...

Sitting

What happens if we stop doing
Exercise 1  - Every student will need a chair and a three minutes.
Play music throughout the exercise 
As preparation for a rehearsal, it’s a useful way to quickly and efficiently clear away the distracting events of your day and bring yourself to the task at hand.
    Step 1
  • Sit comfortably, in a relatively straight-backed chair if possible.  

  • Step 2
  • Place yourself against the back of the chair, or forward on the edge of the chair. 
  • Sitting in the middle of the seat can sometimes lead to slumping.  

  • Step 3
  • Put both your feet on the floor and place your hands on your lap to help keep your shoulders and chest open.  
  • If you need back support, place a small pillow or rolled-up sweater behind your back to help your spine stay elongated.  

  • Step 4
  • Sense your body supported by the seat and back of the chair. Be aware of your feet against the floor and your body in the environment.  

  • Step 5
  • Scan your body for tension.  

  • Step 6
  • Allow yourself to be easily upright rather than slumped or too stiffly upright. 

  • Step 7
  • Think up through your body, without “making it happen.” Let it be a thought, an intention.  

  • Step 8 - Think of the answer but don't verbalize
  • What’s happening with your breathing? Is it fast or slow? Even or uneven? High or low?  

  • Step 9
  • Be mindful of your thoughts as well as your body. If your attention wavers, gently bring it back to your mind-body. Maintain an easy focus on your breathing and yourself.  

  • At the end of three minutes end the session by bringing the attention back forward. 


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Mind-Body Opening

These steps are a gentle way to begin to take "mind-body freedom" into movement. 
    Play music lightly throughout

Exercise 2
Step 1Gently allow yourself to be at your full height helps to energize your body without forcing. 
Step 2 - Thinking of your legs releasing down toward the ground 
Step 3 - Thinking of your spine releasing up will helps 
Reinforces the dynamic opposition that is necessary in the human body 
Step 4 - The drawing of your arms up and out will help to counteract the tendency to slope the shoulders forward, and for your arms to hang listlessly at your sides. 
These simple movements help your torso move up and out, rather than down and in. 
By opening yourself physically, you help to open yourself emotionally, almost to say, “Yes, I’m ready to open myself in all ways, in all directions.” What a great place from which to start a rehearsal or performance!
  • Step 5 Stand with your feet easily apart. Ask yourself not to slump or to stand overly straight.  

  • Step 6 - Gently think up through your torso. Think open through your chest and shoulders. Allow your arms to hang easily at your sides.  

  • Step 7 - Be aware of your breath dropping into the bottom of your lungs.  

  • Step 8 - Sense the front, back, and sides of your body. Remember that you are three- dimensional.  
  • Feel your feet against the floor and your head going up toward the ceiling.  

  • Step 9 - Slowly and smoothly spread your arms out to either side, to shoulder level.  
  • Float your arms back to your sides.  

  • Step 10 - Gently stretch your arms out to the side a second time.  
  • Imagine energy coming up along your spine, through your arms, and out through your fingertips.  

  • Step 11 - Float your arms back down to your sides.

  • Step 12 - Elongate your arms out to the sides, then up toward the ceiling, your fingertips stretching as far as they can without tightening or raising your shoulders. Repeat a second time.  

  • Step 13 - Allow your whole mind-body to open itself up—to be ready to give and to receive.

From Physical Expression on Stage and Screen by Bill Connington, publishing summer, 2014.

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