The ancient art of yoga is a therapeutic means of exercise that has been used for centuries and is known to affect both the physical and mental state of its practitioners. Lee Goodhew Romm, professor of performance studies in the James J. Whalen School of Music, has discovered the profound effect yoga can have on the body and mind of a musician.
Goodhew Romm became a certified yoga instructor in June and began teaching a class called Yoga for the Artist this fall at Sunrise Yoga, located at 119 S. Cayuga St. Every Friday, Goodhew Romm begins class at 10 a.m. and teaches for more than an hour.
Goodhew Romm said her life as a bassoon player largely influenced her yoga practice.
In 2007, Goodhew Romm began experiencing frozen shoulder, an inflammation that inhibits motion, in both her shoulders. Goodhew Romm said instead of spending time in doctors’ offices, she chose to get stronger, fixing her ailments through yoga.
After 21 years of practicing yoga, Goodhew Romm decided to become a certified yoga instructor. She received her certification from the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, Mass. To apply, Goodhew Romm submitted an online form to the institute, and said once accepted she embarked on a 28-day yoga immersion retreat with 60 other potential yoga teachers. Goodhew Romm said she did not anticipate to create a bond with the other soon-to-be yogis — yoga instructors — but was grateful she did.
“You just get inspired by your classmates all the time,” Goodhew Romm said. “I didn’t expect that. You’re in touch with these people forever, and you can always count on them.”
Since receiving her certification, Goodhew Romm has worked to create a supportive community among both her music students and her yoga students. Senior Amanda Nauseef said Goodhew Romm brought yoga into her bassoon classroom even before she was a certified yogi by introducing the students to poses and stretches. Nauseef said Goodhew Romm incorporated yoga into her studio classes because she believes it can benefit the students.
“In the music school, here, we’re all under a lot of pressure,” Nauseef said. “We’re stressed a lot, and our lives are crazy, and [Goodhew Romm] knows that. That’s why she really encourages her students to be of healthy mind and body.”
Yoga for the Artist is currently in its fourth week at Sunrise Yoga. Goodhew Romm said her class is meant to help all artists improve their craft through stretching and poses specific to their needs.
“I’m trying to study, as a musician, what parts of my body I need to keep flexible and strong,” Goodhew Romm said. “Then I try to imagine for painters and writers what kind of things they would need to be working on to keep themselves strong and to work on a deep relaxed focus.”
Each week, Goodhew Romm designates specific poses and themes for the class. On Sept. 27, the theme was heart opening, and she incorporated twists and postures that pushed the chest toward the sky. She encouraged the class members to visualize the movement of their torso as they inhaled. Next, she slowly moved onto the yoga poses, beginning with more anchored movements, then shifting to taller postures to improve balance. She encouraged the students to do what felt comfortable and to not be afraid to have fun.
Steven Valloney, owner of Sunrise Yoga, said he is a strong supporter of Goodhew Romm’s work at the studio.
“When Lee approached me with the idea of doing a class for performers, I thought it was a great idea,” Valloney said. “I find her methodology to be very playful and spontaneous.”
Goodhew Romm closed the session with the classic yogi salutation, “Namaste,” and as the class left, she made her way around the room greeting each student and encouraging them to ask questions.
Goodhew Romm said not only does she enjoy using yoga to help her students, both in and out of the classroom, but she also believes yoga has helped her grow as a musician.
“My playing is stronger, more interesting and more relaxed,” Goodhew Romm said. “I just find my musical life far richer now that I’m a yogi.”