The Final Breathing exercise in the Bikram Yoga series, is Kapalbhati in Vajrasana, or Blowing in Firm. It’s a cleansing breathe in which you inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth 60 times, repeated twice. During the breath, the yoga instructor, will clap their hands, to lead the class in the breath. After sweating for 90 minutes in a room heated to 105 degrees, while looking at your melting self in a mirror, an applause seems appropriate. I’m an actor, so of course I think of the clapping as a well deserved applause. And if the teacher is standing, well than it’s a standing O!
Breathing is something we rarely think about, it happens automatically. But breathing fully and deeply is rarely what we do, we are too busy being too busy and rushing through our overloaded lives.
Paying attention to one’s breath, slowing it down, taking fuller, deeper inhales and exhales can be a step towards relaxation and rejuvenation. It’s good to be reminded to breathe.
Let’s now talk about the applause. One can say that actors are needy souls. We want to be seen and accepted. According to Roxie Hart in the musical Chicago “ My audience loves me. And I love them. And they love me for lovin’ them and I love them for lovin’ me. And we love each other. And that’s cause none of us got enough love in our childhoods. And that’s showbiz, kid.” As humans we seek approval, validation from those we love, our parents, spouses, significant others. If we do not receive this sense of validation there are voids that are left unfilled. This can leave one feeling empty and rejected. Yes, it’s awesome when someone claps for you. I discovered this in my first leading stage role in the kindergarden Christmas production at age 5. And when there is silence and no one responds, this can be awful.
At the end of every acting class I teach, I ask my students to take a bow and applaud themselves. How often do we give ourselves credit for the things we do? How often do we applaud ourselves? Another thing I have my acting students do is stand alone on stage, slate their name and say “I am fabulous.” Do you know how difficult this is for most people? We are taught to be humble and not brag about oneself. But how quick are we to put ourselves down, to blame ourselves for everything that goes wrong in the world.
You are fabulous. Believe it. Stand up and say it to the world, and give yourself a round of applause. You deserve it! And don’t forget to breathe.