It is highly important for the Actor to keep themselves in good physical condition. This is because it is part of our neutrality. Since freedom of motion is essential to the Actor, we must understand physical neutrality and be able to let go of tensions. Each preexistent tension is really a part of one’s own persona, and therefore it blocks the expression of another character through us.
I have mentioned before the idea of being a blank canvas. Of course, no one is a completely blank canvas because you have your ethnicity, gender, etc. Yet still, there is a broad range of behaviors available to the Actor, and their ability to morph comes through their flexibility, mentally and physically.
That is why stretching is important, because it neutralizes tensions which are, in essence, fears residing in your body. It is fear that is the enemy of the Actor. FDR once said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” The same could be said to an acting class in Hollywood. Our courage is our stock in trade.
One thing about yoga, is that you learn to be equanimous. Weird word, but this is the adjectival form of the noun equanimity. When you look at the word, you can see that it means “balance.” It is a sureness about yourself and a relaxation which implies confidence.
If any one thing is going to get you booked as an actor, it’s your confidence. The word confidence comes from the Latin, meaning: with faith. Have faith in your ability to be equanimous in any situation whether it’s an audition or a gig. Equanimity is going to make you feel steady and able to do whatever is necessary, without qualm. In yoga, we find ourselves in strenuous positions, but the idea is to relax within that pose, and breathe. Doing this again and again, makes it so you can go into difficult situations and remain relaxed.
Another important aspect of yoga is the focus. While you are in that strenuous position and breathing, you’re focused on one thing. This training is of unparalleled importance to the Actor, who needs that exact discipline. If you will do a certain amount of physical training that involves stretching,breathing, focus—whether you call it yoga or not is unimportant. For the Actor, it is completely essential and it sure beats all the pills, etc., which are supposed to get you there.
The Actor must be free in form and substance.