Friday, April 22, 2011

Yehudi Menuhin and His Discovery of Yoga

Written by Andy Fein, luthier at Fein Violins
and Angela Newgren

Yehudi Menuhin was an extremely talented violinist from New York City. Born on April 22nd 1916, his career started at the age of seven after his first public concert.

Throughout his career Mehunin suffered from a variety of muscular and skeletal aches. In 1951, he was introduced to the practicing of yoga and immediately took interest in its key concepts of relaxation and meditation. A year later, on a two month tour of India, Prime Minister Nehru and Mr. Menuhin found a common bond in yoga practice. It brought the media's attention to the two, which broadened Menuhin's affiliation with gurus and yoga instructors.

Menuhin started working with Iyengar, a guru who taught him true meditation and relaxation. It cured Menuhin of his insomnia and Iyengar remained his personal yoga instructor for 15 years.

Each day Menuhin would practice yoga, which included 20 minutes of standing on his head! He would also practice yoga before each performance. This enhanced Menuhin's talents as a musician, and he remained a firm believer in the practice of yoga for the rest of his life.

Yoga can be an incredibly useful addition to any string player's life. One thing that tends to be forgotten amidst all of the scales, etudes, and general technical practice is the importance of breathing. As string players, breathing is something that is taken for granted and done automatically, but you would be surprised how often we hold our breath when a difficult musical passage is encountered! Yoga, which combines both breathing and relaxation (relaxation is actually a direct result of proper, focused breathing!), is a perfect way for any musician to push through technical difficulties as well as add to the musicality of any performance!

Yehudi Menuhin

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