Annette Wardell — soprano

[editor’s note: congratulations to Annette Wardell for winning a national competition to become The Face of Vegan Happy Clothing]

Yoga is a holistic experience for many — mind, body, spirit. But did one element or another first draw you to the practice? That is, were you seeking to settle your mind? Have greater physical flexibility? Explore your true, spiritual nature?

I was initially attracted to yoga as a means of calming both body and mind during rehearsal periods and before performances — the pranayama is a wonderful way of anchoring the diaphragm, so essential to healthy and sustained singing

How about now: does yoga feed your mind or your body or your spirit more, or are those elements more in balance than when you started?

now all yogic elements are equally important — mind, body and spirit are inextricably linked through regular self practise — as a long time vegan, one of the core yogic teachings or yamas, Ahimsa, has become one of the most treasured elements of my daily life and of my yoga practise

How long have you been practicing yoga?

I’ve been practising yoga in one form or another for about ten years

How frequently do you practice now?

I try to practise every day now, although with a hectic performing career this isn’t always easy — I take a travel yoga mat with me everywhere I go, so that even in far flung hotel rooms practise is always possible

How does yoga affect your life as a professional opera singer?

yoga has enhanced my life as an opera singer immeasurably — it has strengthened my balance and core, my breath control has improved-hugely important for opera singers, and connecting to my calming breath has banished any lingering nerves forever!

Do you have a preferred yoga style?

Vinyasa is my go to, but I have been known to glow my way through an Ashtanga class or two

When you first took up yoga, what came easiest and what was more challenging?

as someone with a super active mind, blocking out distractions and calming my inner voice has always been challenging for me — I’m hyper mobile, so the physical challenges of yoga feel relatively easy compared to the mental ones

What have been the greatest benefits of yoga for you?

the benefits of regular yoga practise have been incredible — better quality sleep, stronger core and balance, lower blood pressure, stronger muscles and and a much calmer, relaxed outlook

For you, what are the benefits of classes at a studio or with a group vs practicing yoga at home?

I love the social aspect of group classes, and having an expert on hand to realign, check postures and lead is great — but due to the nature of my job, solitary practise has become the norm, and I treasure the peace and tranquility which comes with it

Apart from yoga, do you practice other techniques of mindfulness or meditation?

I meditate regularly using the Breethe app, and as an opera singer I have a set of fabulous breathing exercises which I use before singing practise and as stand alone exercises

Outside of a yoga session, do you ever just strike a pose and stretch? If so, which pose(s) and where?

I’m always moving into random yoga poses at home — wheel pose during TV adverts, tree pose when I’m waiting for the kettle to boil, and a strange variation of warrior while I brush my teeth

You have a choice: take part in a yoga class (1) outdoors on a beautiful day, overlooking the ocean, or (2) in a well-designed, very comfortable minimalist indoor space. Which do you pick?

I’d much rather take a class outdoors surrounded by nature — there’s something about connecting to the elements that is ultimately spiritual and incredibly freeing — any distractions seem much easier to ignore when they are part of a bigger natural soundscape

—interview © Marshal Zeringue