by Traci Dinwiddie
I’m not saying that Nadi Shuddhi got me “the part”. I won’t tell you that dedicating thousands of sun salutations and full-on practices to my creative career path manifested my recurring guest star role either, but I will tell you that my yoga practice on and off the mat is what makes the quality of my work as an actress so much sweeter. For me, acting and yoga is a match made in heaven. I have been practicing both arts since the late 90’s and I’m still fascinated by how much the two intermingle. Let’s be real here. Acting is not glamorous. It’s some of the hardest work I’ve endeavored to take on. Even the effort it takes to book a job is a job. I’m not complaining. It is just reality. Yoga has been the driving force in my facing reality with a strong, supple body, a soft gaze and an open heart.
It has prepared me for letdowns and missteps. Even with a consistent practice, there are days when I simply cannot “nail” a pose. Those days are my most valuable because they require humility and a slower, concentrated pace. I’m taught not to burn my steps as I take on an asana. The same applies when embodying a character or performing a scene. The magic isn’t in cranking my body into a twisted, challenging posture, or being able to cry at the snap of a finger. I feel the magic when weaving a flow of palpable energy though my muscles on rhythmic waves of inhales and exhales that eventually land me in the pose. I also feel most alive as an artist when I let go of the ideal end result and allow myself the process of thinking the thoughts of the character and actually become surprised by the next emotional expression that emerges. Each moment is a journey woven by breath and presence. It’s not always pretty and hardly ever perfect, but it breeds authenticity. It’s riveting to witness on my mat and on the set.
My current personal yoga practice is based in a style called Anusara, which means to flow with Grace. It’s a gorgeous mix of alignments and flow that encourages embracing the mystery. The back body is the physical representation of that mystery. As a student of this style, I am taught to “puff up” my kidneys and back body as a way of physicalizing my faith in the unknown. It has instilled a courage in me that has kept my spirits lifted during the toughest of times here in Los Angeles. It has also improved the heck out of my handstand! My fear of falling (also known as failing in the acting world) was shifted spiritually as I first learned this posture. Step by step, I was guided into what most might think quite backward – from a backbend. My teacher told us that the only way we’ll be able to approach handstand fully is if we know we can fall. When you fall from handstand, you fall naturally into a backbend. That was a huge “Aha!” moment for me as an actress and yogini. Several years later, I came across teachers in a prestigious acting school that would scream, “Dare to suck!” Even a very eccentric French theater director once told our company to “Poop your pants on stage!” I knew exactly what they meant, thanks to yoga. It’s called a practice for a reason. Without falling or failure, there is no practice. There is no humanity. There is no art.
Actress Traci Dinwiddie keeps her workout routines anything but ordinary. A certified Yoga instructor, a trapeze and aerialist artist, spiritual fitness, hiking and staying conscious of her eating habits are Traci’s picks for staying trim in Hollywood. Best known for her role as blind psychic Pamela Barnes on the CW’s hit series “Supernatural”, Traci’s holistic approach to fitness is what keeps this working actress stay grounded. Follow Traci on Twitter!