A few years ago during the writers' strike, I had a lot of free time on my hands. The break gave me a chance to do some soul-searching and I realized my life had become a little bit stagnant. I decided to shake things up. People need new experiences. That's how we grow. But the million-dollar question was, What could I do to challenge myself in a new, exciting way?
The answer was right in my own neighborhood. A yoga studio had just opened, and it was offering specials for new students. I signed up right away.
Have you ever tried something new and realized almost immediately that you're in love with the experience and you can no longer live without it? Well, that's exactly how I felt during my first yoga class. The focused breathing and physical challenge was a perfect match for someone like me. I'm proud to say yoga is now a permanent part of my stressful life.
Last week, I realized the lessons I've learned on the mat also apply to the life of a struggling actor. So I'd like to share some of those with you in the hope that they make your journey just a little bit easier.
At the start of every yoga class, the teacher reminds us to honor ourselves for showing up. That's a valuable lesson right there. An acting career is extremely hard, and you should all congratulate yourselves for having the courage to even try.
Once class begins, we move into a series of poses designed to both strengthen and stretch different parts of our body. Every student has a unique reaction to these positions. Some find triangle pose difficult, but I've never had any trouble with it. The one that kills me is warrior one. But over the years, I've learned the pose I like the least is the one my body needs the most.
The same is true for you. Don't just focus on your strengths. Challenge yourself by learning new skills and pushing your boundaries. That's how you become a great actor.
I never know what to expect when I go to class. Sometimes, I soar through the poses, feeling like I'm on the cover of Yoga Journal. But then there are days when my body moves like a bag full of wet sand. That's just the nature of yoga -- and life.
Actors have bad days too. Lines get forgotten on opening night. Auditions go horribly wrong. Agents pass on you. But that doesn't mean Annie was wrong. The sun will indeed come out tomorrow.
I'm a competitive guy by nature so when I first started my practice, I wasted a lot of valuable class time comparing myself with others. There were students there who could bend over backward and pick their toes. It took a while for me to learn that yoga isn't a contest. The only thing that matters is what I do on my own mat.
Have you made the same mistake? Have you ever come home from class feeling like a loser because one of the other students landed a big job? Those feelings are natural but here's the thing: There will always be actors who are doing better than you. So learn from their success but don't compare yourself with them. Everyone's on his or her own path.
I'd like to encourage all of you to check out your local yoga studio. Starting your own practice will get you into great shape, and it will also help you stay positive. The entertainment industry is a negative stress monster, but learning to breathe my way through pressure has prevented me from serving any hard time.