TIFF ’10: Theatre Yoga

We heart TIFF. Really, what’s not to love about this fabulous Toronto institution? Three hundred films shown over 11 days, red carpets, parties and celebrity sightings galore – sounds like our kind of fun. The thing is, by day two we’ve usually ditched the heels, by day six we’re speed dialing our RMTs, and by day 10 we’re yearning for a quiet night in.

We asked our favourite yogis, Sari Nisker from Spynga and YuMee Chung from Passport to Prana, to give us their top moves for staying limber, energized and feeling our best at this year’s fest. Om(g)!

Pre-fest: Downward Dog
Starting with a quick pre-fest downward dog is a perfect way to get more oxygen flowing to your star-crazed brain and getting your body ready to move. Begin on your hands and knees, with hands and knees positioned shoulder and hip distance apart. Curl your toes under and lift your hips back and up towards the stars. If you feel much of the weight in your shoulders or hands, bend your knees a little and draw your chest towards your thighs. Take 10-15 deep breaths, which will allow the blood flow to reverse and will instantly lift your mood. Being upside down is the secret celebrity youth potion, don’t ya know?

In line: quads and hips
Excitedly waiting in line for a film (and hoping to catch a glimpse of a celeb)? This is a great opportunity to stretch your quads and hips. Stand tall, shift your weight to your left foot and begin to bend your leg up from your right knee. Draw your foot back, reach down and grab your right ankle, and slowly bring your heel towards your right glute (butt). To intensify the stretch, allow the right foot to draw back into your hand to create some resistance. Take a few deep breaths and lift your chest as you hold the position. Remember to get an even stretch and repeat with the other leg. Ladies: please move with caution if you are in heels that are more than one inch in height.

In your (coveted) seat:

Close your eyelids and move your inner gaze along four points (holding each for one slow, deep inhale and one slow, deep exhale through your nose): (1) up towards your forehead, (2) down towards your chin, (3) over to the left ear, (4) over to the right ear. Then, do three slow clockwise circles with your eyes before doing three counter-clockwise circles. Finally, rub your hands briskly to generate some heat between your palms and cup them over your closed eyes. Breath deeply a few times, allowing the heat to relax the muscles and calm the mind.

Your eyes need some stretching too.


Sit up straight in your seat, and lower the right ear towards the right shoulder until you feel a gentle pull on the left side of your neck. If you’d like a deeper stretch, place your right hand lightly on the head to encourage the movement. Enjoy for five deep breaths before turning the nose to point down towards your right underarm, until you feel the stretch move a little closer to your spine. Stay for five breaths and repeat on the left. Inhale deeply, and lower the chin towards the chest with an exhale. As you inhale, roll the right ear towards the right shoulder, and as you exhale, roll the chin back down to the chest. As you inhale, roll the left ear towards the left shoulder, and as you exhale roll the chin back down to the chest. Repeat four to six times.

This will feel amazing.

Sitting forward in your seat, place your right hand on the back end of the right-side armrest and place your left hand on your right knee. Inhale and grow tall through your spine, and then exhale as you twist to the right, letting your hands give you some leverage. Look over the right shoulder and keep your seat grounded, resisting the urge to let your hips turn with you. Take five deep breaths in this simple twist before switching sides.

Like this! Only…cooler.

Nourish and stretch
Eating and drinking during TIFF is vital. Waiting in line for water and snacks, open and stretch out your shoulders. Bring your hands behind your back, interlace your fingers and imagine that you have Brad Pitt’s hand on your upper back and you never want to let it go. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and stretch the arms straight down towards the red carpet. Breathe and smile brightly.

Practice these stretches daily while watching the hot lineup of films at TIFF this year. Your body will thank you on September 20, when it’s all over!

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