Lessons from a Commercial Film Set: 5 Ways to Protect Your Energy

This week I had a really good reminder about the importance of protecting one's energy, and I'd like to share my experience with you. On Tuesday The Yoga Room was closed while a production company used the studio to film a national TV commercial. It was an exciting opportunity for the studio to be involved in the project, and it was an exciting opportunity for me personally, because they asked me to be the yoga teacher in the commercial.

When I arrived at 7:00 a.m., in the dark, the parking lot was full of trucks and trailers. The studio, and in fact the whole complex, was abuzz with crew members moving around and setting things up. In all, there were about 60-70 crew members on site for set decoration, art direction, wardrobe, hair and makeup, lighting, audio, filming, video monitoring, craft services (catering), and more.

Filming was scheduled to begin at 8:30, and there wasn't much for me to do except prepare to teach. So I spent some time watching the crew set up in the studio and trying to be helpful. I spent some time walking around the complex to take in all the activity and learn whatever I could about how commercials are made. I went and had my hair and makeup done, and then I went back to the studio.

I wasn't nervous, but some part of me was excited about all the activity, and I realized the effect adrenaline was having on me. I decided to do some asana practice to try to settle down. What I noticed right away was that my body was reacting differently than it does during my typical morning practice. I was much more limber; I didn't feel my usual aches and pains. I craved a stronger practice than normal. I wanted headstands - lots of headstands.

The asana practice helped some, but I decided I needed to meditate to try to settle down a bit more. I sat in a corner of the studio and meditated. As I normally do, I focused on breathing, but this time I was breathing in generator fumes. Even still, I managed to relax a bit.

Soon it was time to begin filming, and surprisingly, I wasn't nervous at all. My back was to the camera, and I began to teach the class. Everything went perfectly fine, and the director was happy with the images he was capturing.

Most of the crew was really lovely people. Of course, in a high-stress environment like a commercial film set, there are bound to be a few grouchy personalities, and those began to pop up later in the filming.

I usually use my "That person has an issue. I am fine" mentality when I have to work with grouchy people, but I realized in this situation that that tactic wasn't enough.

There was just so much going on: the giant crew, the equipment scattered all over the complex, the pressure of teaching on film, some miscommunications about expectations, no time for lunch, and the grouchy people on top of all of that.

When the filming was done and the crew began to pack up and leave, I realized I had a headache and I was starving. I had to stick around a little while to coordinate putting the studio and the complex back to "normal," and when it was all done, I locked up and when to have some lunch with a friend. And that's when I realized that I was EXHAUSTED. It took me another 36 hours to fully recover.

And now that I look back on the experience, I wonder what I could have done differently so that I wouldn't have been wiped out at the end of it. I wondered how the film crew manages to do this kind of work for days in a row. I wondered how can yoga help someone in this environment protect their energy?

And here's what I came up with - 5 Ways to Protect Your Energy:

  1. Remember to breathe. In yoga we use pranayama (breathing exercises) to regulate our energy. Check in with your breathing from time to time. Are you breathing or holding your breath? Are you taking short, jagged, stressed breaths, or long, smooth, relaxed breaths? Take relaxed, lengthened inhales and long exhales to promote relaxation and increase your energy.
  2. Take sensory breaks. Whenever you're not directly involved in the action, practice pratyahara (withdrawal from the senses). Take a few moments to close your eyes, refrain from speaking, and imagine turning off your ability to hear. Focus inward to find some mental stillness and conserve your energy.
  3. Take physical breaks. If you have the opportunity, take a physical break with savasana (final relaxation pose). Lay on the floor and allow your body to completely relax. This will help you process the activities you're experiencing, and will help calm your mind and balance your energy.
  4. Mind your own business. This can be a tough one. We often want to know everything that's going on around us, but if we're being conscious about protecting and conserving our energy, we'd be wise to let other people worry about their business and mind our own business.
  5. Send love to the grouchy people. This can also be a tough one. Our first instinct is usually to think mean thoughts about them, but consider what it must feel like to be them. They're angry all day long. They may have some bad stuff going on in their life. Sending them a little mental sympathy, and maybe even some love, is a way for you to release those negative, energy-sucking thoughts and be on your merry way.

Now I'd love to hear from you! What energy-zapping situation have you found yourself in? Did you manage your energy well? What are you favorite tips and tricks to protect your energy?

Please share your pearls of wisdom in the Comments below. I look forward to hearing from you!

Lots of love, Zelinda