The Yoga of Music
I’m not sure what your experiences were in Spanda Vinyasa or Dynamic Yin yoga classes, but as a teacher I always hoped it was rich and that you had many. I personally found teaching yoga to be an insidiously enjoyable practice of self-expression. And we built a community together; all of us learning to let go, to trust the process and the natural flow of creative energy – together finding the beauty in each moment. This is the pulse of life, or spanda pulse, and being your yoga teacher brought me closer to this for sure.
Not teaching yoga for these last several months initially left a void inside me. I tried to take classes in the community. I thought the performance of the yoga poses would help me fill the void and recover the sense of wholeness that yoga teaching provided me. I had to release the identity of ‘teacher’ before I could even go to a yoga class again and even then, my mind wasn’t reaching the same sense of satisfaction as my body, at least not like before.
It’s become quite clear that there was something truly special about what we were doing together every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This time practicing together always brought me clarity, perspective and warmth. Seems that’s what I was really missing, not the poses. How did we create that together? And how can I do it again?
While I always thought of myself as a student even as a teacher, I’m embracing my inner student again; because I’m learning that this shift in perspective is valuable to me as a Yogi, who is both teacher and student.
I’ve started spending time with the music from our classes again, that literally moved me in all kinds of different directions on the mat every other day for 5 years. And as a result, something is waking up in me. Seems the music in and of itself has been leading me into balanced action again and I am finding myself feeling better physically (less pain) and more peaceful and clear of mind. How curious?
Now I can’t really explain exactly why this is happening. But I do have a deeper appreciation for how music can inspire physical memories or even states of mind. The mental and physical impressions from class live in the soundtracks now. Seems the process of having built a centering practice driven by these songs over the passed 5 years has endowed them with power, at least for me.
Playing these songs transports me. I find myself more focused and released just from hearing them – similar to how I felt after or during classes. The endorphins and happy causing neurotransmitters start flowing as I release myself to the sound – literally melting away pain in my body and illusions of the mind. Whether I’m writing, cooking, contemplating, drawing, sweating, stretching, working or meditating to the music it can unlock my sense of freedom, creativity and joy. That special place that I knew after teaching a yoga class lives on as I embody these qualities once again.
Discovering this connection has made me very happy. What was, still is, and is not lost. Although I miss our class time together, finding this freeing movement of the mind (as I allow my favorite tunes from our Dynamic Spanda Yoga experiences to move me again) has restored my faith in the cyclic process of growth.
If it helps you get into your meditation zone, you might consider using music as a medium for creative energy (shakti) to flow too. Finding balance and focus through the dynamic changes of a musical experience (that some found distracting in class) is how doing Dynamic Spanda Yoga provided a centering function for me.
Since I am now integrating what these classes taught me about growing and learning I want to challenge you to a possibly fun exercise.
Yay! A Fun Exercise: Try making a ‘Soul Process Playlist.’
CHOOSE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE SONGS from our yoga experience or of your own. Put them into a short sequence. Be moved by the music. Movement can be physical, or maybe it’s just about letting your pen move, or your thoughts move or your body and mind flow while laying completely still. It can involve color or words, pain or frustration, fullness, brightness or emptiness.
Do this for a certain number of days in row for a certain length of time. Watch. Maybe change the music up each day. You could consider that slower songs might lead you inward and faster songs might burn up obstacles to be released. Each has it’s own way – both help lead you to center. Try them both. Listen to respond naturally. Go with it. This is how I conceptualized the experience of Spanda Vinyasa and Dynamic Yin.
This fun exercise could help you get in touch with your yoga practice again, but without the experience of mat yoga. It could possibly redefine your definition of yoga and recover ‘the codes’ to your place of center. (At least it did for me.)
IN SUMMARY I believe that the songs from our classes still have a powerful effect on me in particular because they represents my own journey, my participation in the movement of life, necessary action, the development of my awareness, a sense of center and an ability to trust. By them I merged action and observation making me both student and teacher in the process of growth. And playing them is like the comfort of a familiar fragrance. Perhaps you can create something similar for yourself?
Always a student, I’m still learning to surrender to the subtley in life… the Spanda pulse – that which is pure nature, moving me organically, changing me… killing me, birthing me, morphing me from one form to another, on the mat or of the mind. When I trust in it, I find center. It’s through my engagement in this process that I nourish and grow. The poses provide an avenue, but the true YOGA takes place inside and that can happen in all kinds of different ways. Our mat yoga is full when our lives are full. In that way our mat yoga is simply a mirror that helps us see how we exist.
Taking yoga classes is a joy for me again, now that I’m an open and active participant in my new life. I may teach again someday, but for now I just want to continue discerning this dynamic unfolding within myself – allowing it, making space for it to teach me – trusingt in it. The soul’s inner balancing process is so beautiful! The master witness of it is the true yogi. Embracing this dynamic movement is keeping the growing happening for me. The empty void has become an endless river of dynamic color once again. The lesson is to let things go and simply be open.
I hope you find your own ways to experience your paths to fullness and center. Give yourself over to these paths. Let them shift you. I believe living with dedication in this way will keep us young – open to new perspectives, building new neural pathways, healing our nerves, developing new capacities, knowing a solid direction, and sharpening our ability to question our limiting beliefs, to build the proper connections inside and out and to act with grace in alignment.
Be in movement. Be in stillness. Live your sacred process. Let’s never stop growing!