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Measha performs an advanced version of the camel pose on the Hidden Canyon Trail, Zion National Park, Utah. (Alex Gardner)
Measha performs an advanced version of the camel pose on the Hidden Canyon Trail, Zion National Park, Utah. (Alex Gardner)

Power crunch: why this soprano likes her yoga hot Add to ...

Next month, soprano Measha Brueggergosman brings her North American tour to Toronto and Vancouver. But when she's not on stage, you'll probably find her at the yoga studio. She spoke about her hot yoga regime from Madrid, where she is performing in Kurt Weil's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.

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My goal "For me, yoga creates a healthy relationship between mind and body."

My workout "I graduated from Bikram yoga teacher training spring this year. In my regular practice I do two days on, one day off, but I've recently started the advance series, the next postures of the continuation of the full expression of the beginning series. Now instead of class being 90 minutes and 26 postures, it's two and a half hours, with 90 postures.

"I took my first Bikram class in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the fall of 2005 and swore I'd never go back. I was wearing sweatpants, I had a polystyrene cup of water and a face cloth - it was a total disaster. It took me a year to go back. When I was trying to decide what to do after heart surgery as a form of exercise, I thought 'What's the hardest thing I've ever done?' And after my second class, I knew I wanted to be a teacher."

My lifestyle "The opera life is different from the concert life. For instance, when I come to do the North America recital tour, I start in Atlanta, then go to Chicago, Toronto, Kingston, San Francisco, Vancouver and Oslo, and that's inside of a month. Right now I have an apartment in Madrid, I walk three blocks to the opera, I rehearse from 11 to 7, and then when the run starts, I have a performance every three days. The quality of the work is very much influenced by what I do on my days off. Usually I'm teaching. I'm going to Valencia because I need to be close to water and I'll go hiking in the mountains, and warm up once or twice, but on game day, it's low key."

My motivation "In Bikram, you have a group dynamic, but it can only be practised by you, so it's very much a solo activity. And I teach Bikram in addition to my career because I'm a Type A personality, and if there's a mountain there, I'll climb it. And I live by five gifts of the spirit: self-control, wisdom, laughter, truth and forgiveness."

My anthem "Since coming to Madrid I'm into DJ Mood, a Spanish rapper [from Argentina]"

My challenge "I love candy: Gummi Bears, Fuzzy Peaches and Sour Patch Kids."

The critique Heed bodily feedback "In Bikram, I've heard, 'hold on to your feet and pull like crazy' and 'I gotta get my chin to my shin' and what happens is people can get injured and frustrated because 'pushers' are about achieving asanas," says Eoinn Finn, author of Power Yoga for Happiness.

More essential, Mr. Finn says, is being aware of what your body is telling you, to avoid pain and add pleasure in practising yoga.

Balance discipline with sensuality To heighten her awareness and connect with yoga's sensuality, Mr. Finn suggests Ms. Brueggergosman go to yoga without the inner voice of a disciplinarian.

"I would ask her to check in with the questions: 'How does this make me feel? What can I do to make myself leave this room feeling, not tired and sore, but truly better?' " Use breath as a barometer Mr. Finn also advises Ms. Brueggergosman to listen to the rhythm of her breath. "If she's not in the full expression of a pose, Measha should not force it; otherwise the disciplinarian is out of control and she's contorting and damaging things when her breath should be slow, deep, controlled."

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