If you’ve been clicking around my website or following me on social media at all, you’ve probably seen the term post-performance recovery come up a *few times (*read, a lot). It’s a pretty catchy phrase, and seems pretty easy to understand. But since I talk about it so much, I thought it might be useful to explain what I actually mean by it.


Post-Performance Recovery. What the heck is it?

In many ways, it is exactly what it sounds like: A process to assists artists in releasing their performance experiences and rebalancing their energy, so they can transition back into their everyday lives.

This is a fancy way of saying it’s a “cool down”. Think of sports. Before an athlete competes in an event, they go through a warm up routine to prepare themselves. Afterwards, they follow a cool down routine to help their body recuperate from all the energy the just exerted.

Many performers follow a similar routine, except for one thing: most of us only do the first part.

Let me explain…

Like athletes, performers put in lots of time and effort into warming up. We develop personalized routines, we follow techniques taught by experts, and we plan our pre-show time to make sure we can fit our warm-up in. But after the performance is over or the filming wraps, how many of us are dashing out the door to the nearest bar or restaurant, or even better, bar-restaurant…?

Yeah, I thought so. 😉

Hey, I get it. I’ve done it too. But the thing is, unlike athletes, we as performers are not just dealing with a tired body and the feeling of success or defeat from our performance on their field. When we step offstage, we are also bringing with us the energy of the art we performed itself, whether it be the character we played, the movements we’ve made, or the music we played. This energy carries with it a unique intensity, as we performers often find ourselves embodying strong emotions or living high-stakes situations.

But most importantly, this energy isn’t ours. It shakes up our systems and can make us feel unsettled and uncomfortable in our own skin.

It’s this “unsettled feeling”, whether it makes us feel high or low, that can drive us out of the theatre and into the bar night after night, as a way to cope with it.

And to me, there’s the rub. There has to be another option.

Post-performance recovery is about providing that other option.

Now, I’m not saying that you should never head to the bar after a rehearsal or show. Of course, go ahead (if you don’t drink, get an ice cream cone…if you’re vegan, grab a doughnut. So good…). What I am saying is that it’s useful to take some time, before you head out, to release some of that extra energy you’ve accumulated from performing. That way, you’re heading to the bar (or ice cream shop, or vegan bakery) as your grounded and authentic self, rather than an amped up version still rattled from out time in front of the audience. It just might make it a healthier (dare I say…better?) experience.

So what does post-performance recovery look like?

Well, for me, it involves 3 key steps:

1. Grounding: establishing your connection to the earth, so your excess energy has somewhere to go.
2. Breath: using your breath to get your excess energy moving through your system.
3. Releasing Energy: releasing your excess energy through physical movement, establishing boundaries and energy meditations.

Simple, right? Simple, but effective. I bet you can even name off the top of your head several exercises that would fit each of these steps. Do physical or vocal warm-up exercises before performing? Those can work here. Practice yoga or meditation exercises? Those can work here too. String them all together in this order and you’ve got yourself a post-performance recovery routine. In other words, a post-performance “cool down”. 🙂

So that’s post-performance recovery, in a nutshell. Of course, there’s so much more we can talk about here, and I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences with your own post-performance routines.

Excited to explore this further, but need some ideas on where to start? Looking for some suggestions on sequences and exercises? Well, that’s what I’m here for. Keep checking the blog where I’ll be posting more info on post-performance recovery, along with exercises you can incorporate into your own post-performance routine. You can also check out the post-performance recovery and work with me sections of my website for more information and insights.

For now, here’s a guided audio version of the standing grounding exercise you can incorporate into your post-performance recovery routine (it’s also good for warm-ups too!).

I hope you find it useful. 🙂

P.S. ICYMI: I’m leading a Restorative Yoga Workshop at Gerrard Art Space on Toronto, ON on Sunday, May 7, 2017. For details, click here.

Act(ing) Mindfully is a part of my work with Five Winds. It’s a space where I explore the connection between performance and energy, and offer tips and ideas on how to stay balanced and healthy (body, mind, emotions and spirit) while living the life of a performer.

For more information on my work, or my private coaching and workshops, subscribe to my blog in the sidebar and sign up for updates here.

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