Yoga Attitude

February 24, 2010

Before we all got brainwashed into thinking we need $75 yoga pants and $45 yoga tops and whatever commercialism that comes with yoga here in the West, old men in gauze diapers were the authority on Yoga thousands of years ago in silent daily practice alone beside their beds at the crack of dawn. Look through leading Yoga

Biological Infinity

publications today and besides the muted, benign, unassuming look of people in casual outfits bordering on Star Trek The Next Generation costumes, the newest infiltrating ads have no problem bringing the dance club into the yoga class. Butt-enhancing, butt-cloaking, high-technology fabric that makes it easier and more comfortable for you to…do Yoga?

Most people would agree that Yoga exudes a lack of attitude. This is wrong. To decide to do anything, let alone follow the principles, philosophy, and methods of Yoga, it takes sureness, conviction, fervor, and an attitude to follow through. Sometimes a lack of attitude can be the attitude. Many people walk around with an attitude problem and don’t even realize it. It doesn’t mean they are bad people, it just means they are not following through with their actions with the most beneficial attitude.

Attitude starts with the Self. Yoga ends with the Self. The two together are like a serpent eating its tail, a symbol for infinity. If the attitude that drives you through yoga is selfless, you arrive at the ideal agreement of a lack of attitude. If you inadvertently put yourself between Yoga and the way you practice Yoga, then there is an attitude problem; you have become your own obstacle and can’t even see it in your way, your lack of attitude becomes your attitude, and chances are that when you leave your yoga class you leave Yoga behind in the class as well.

I will not enhance my butt. I will not cloak my butt. I will not buy “yoga clothes”. I will not wear colors that look like I’m in a Bananarama video. I will do yoga in what I feel most comfortable. I will not let someone else tell me what I can and cannot wear or look like while doing Yoga. Before I do Yoga, I am doing Yoga. When I’m done with Yoga, I am still doing Yoga. I am Yoga.


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Your Chakras, Your Music

February 19, 2010

Music is in all of us. We are all musicians. Only in the last 500 years has music become a spectator sport. Before then, music existed as something entire families and communities participated freely in without judgement. When the mathematics of music were uncovered and exploited and rules were placed upon what is and isn’t music, humanity in general started to move toward the consensus of what is considered music now, which is based upon whether you do or don’t follow those rules, whether or not you are good enough to be considered a musician.

Of course, if you have a goal to perform music to a football stadium full of people, it helps if you follow or cleverly circumvent the rules in place that allow that to happen. Apart from this relatively new perspective on validating music, you can still greatly enjoy making music and participate in it, just as humans have since the beginning of its creation.

Music, and sound in general, is waves vibrating the air and all forms of matter around us. Physicists have come to an understanding that all of our known universe is comprised of vibrations. The seven major chakras from top to bottom can be associated with a color spectrum just like that of visible light from violet to red. Notes can be assigned to these chakras, with the note C being the lowest, or root chakra, and each successive note with each higher chakra. There are even notes in between like F# and C# associated with chakras in between. If you have an instrument or can sing these individual notes while envisioning the respective colors and chakras you will be joining two forms of energy with the energy that your body and spirit are capable of radiating, tuning yourself, an instrument with a purpose.

Silence Is A State Of Mind

February 18, 2010

Have you ever heard the phrase, “the silence was deafening”? AUM is the verbal equivalent of the four states of consciousness and their fields of experience. A is the waking consciousness, U is the dream consciousness, M is the dreamless sleep, and the silence around the sacred syllable is the Unmanifest Transcendent. The dance posture of the God Siva may be visualized as the symbolic syllable, also commonly written as Om.

But what is the correct note to voice this syllable? There are musical notes associated with each of the seven main chakras, and our root chakra is associated with the note C. The note middle C is a good reference point for the sound AUM, and there are Om singing bowls specifically tuned for this purpose.

Anthropomorphic idols, like Siva, exist to make the point that the God is within the worshiper. Long sermons are unnecessary among idol-worshipers, and the devotee mimics the god with the same meaning the god has, infused into local custom and the details of life. The whole of life can be made into a support for meditation, and one lives in the midst of a silent sermon all the time. Yoga is the same. One mustn’t think of the asanas as representative of what yoga is. It is better to think of them as a vehicle to the goal and comprising only a small fraction of all that is yoga. When your yoga practice comes to a close and you are introspective and alone with the Self, listening to what is usually being blocked out from your awareness, this is yoga, your state of mind after the asanas have been practiced to help you get there. Yoga is for everyone.


Use What You Already Know

February 12, 2010

Unless you are a newborn baby, your hearing is biased by what you have learned over the years to be your hearing. Your hearing is your brain, combined with your ears picking up vibrations that your brain then interprets. You have learned over the course of your life what sounds are and what they aren’t, alongside a certain grey area of what you believe them to be, leaving more room for constant learning to continue to take place. If you were to ask yourself what sounds you consider pleasing, strengthening, soothing, comforting, etc., you will come up with a list that is pretty unique to you, although there can be an average mean where most people within a similar society with similar upbringing can agree with very similar lists. Thinking globally, this average mean cannot apply. Yoga being a philosophy and method developed in a very specific part of the world during a specific time in the history of man, the music considered traditional to yoga practice will also be just that, traditional. In this modern world accepting the principles of yoga, we have a choice to follow tradition or not, and music is one. If the traditional sounds or lack of sound of yoga will stop someone from experiencing yoga, the principles of meditation concerning the isolation of the senses supercede the choices of external aural stimuli. Use what you know, what your ear-brain has already been trained to interpret as desirable, motivational, inspirational, empowering, calming, soothing, whatever you need to enhance your yoga experience. Only you can say whether a certain sound is beneficial to you or distracting. Even in silence we have a baseline noise floor of the blood pumping past our ears up and down our necks or a ringing that won’t go away. Even silence must be isolated from the senses to still the mind.

When sound hits the ear canal and vibrates the eardrum and the inner ear, a complex combination of bio-electrical impulses are sent to the brain where sound must then be interpreted. Sound is always open to interpretation. To say anything more distinct and certain about how one might react to a sound or collection of sounds entering the transducer that is the inner, middle, and outer ear, would be to begin making assumptions. If we zoom out as far as we can to make the safest of assumptions and still be guilty of them, we can say that we all know what rainfall sounds like, what thunder sounds like, or what the ocean sounds like. Although most of that may be true, you still cannot say with certainty anyone’s interpretation of these sounds but your own. I am making a bigger assumption right now by not considering that people may not have their hearing and therefore excluding all deaf and hearing impaired people. If I can say with certainty that I know what rainfall sounds like, and another person says the same, we can both agree that in our minds we each have a distinctly different concept of that sound that overlaps in a common area where we both share a similar memory of experience. But maybe my memory is the sound of rain on concrete and asphalt, or hitting a wood-shingled roof, or how it sounds from the inside of a car, while another person’s memory is that of rain hitting a tin roof, falling on bare earth, tree leaves and grass, echoing through a forest instead of off the sides of buildings. These are minor differences if our focus is the rainfall itself, but make all the difference if we are concerned with the way the rain falls, what it hits, and basically the reason that we hear it.

When sounds enter our ears, it is up to us where we have our focus while at the same time involuntarily drawing on past experiences to identify first where our choices of focus are. These are examples of not only why a silent yoga class can be a more focused yoga class, but also examples of how a properly constructed introduction of sound can benefit any experience, compliment it, or take it to a level previously unforeseen.

The Look of Yoga

February 5, 2010

Let’s face it. Yoga isn’t for everybody. The reasons why are different for each person. A friend of mine states his reason simply by saying, “I don’t do yoga”. In a recent group conversation, this same friend was trying to convince everyone else in the group to do other things that in his mind are confidence-building, motivating, spiritual experiences. People began to reply after some consideration that they didn’t think what he was proposing was “their thing”. Everyone has their thing. Some people jump out of airplanes, drag race, hang-glide, fire walk, scuba dive, climb treacherous mountains. On some level, my friend was equating these kinds of things with yoga. Every time he said he doesn’t “do yoga”, with the conviction of choice, the more I saw he didn’t know what yoga is and doesn’t know what it is that he will not bring himself to do. He may even be surprised to find out he’s been doing yoga all along. I understand what it is he doesn’t do: he doesn’t carry a mat, he doesn’t buy yoga clothes, he doesn’t see himself fitting in with the look of yoga as it has been represented in the United States. Yoga isn’t for everybody. But if some don’t even know what it is, how can they be sure?

Breaking Tradition

February 3, 2010

Yoga and the western world, although ultimately positive and spiritually enriching for masses of people that otherwise may not have had such an experience, is still not as a whole the yoga of the far east. And, that’s perfectly ok, and it can exist here with most of its values and goals intact while moving away from traditional philosophy. Because this is a world thousands of years later, some aspects of our world seem to have to be married with yoga for more people to reap the rewards of being aware of what it is on any level. This in itself is a complex subject that is exposed most easily in the relationship between yoga related products created for profit and the actual intention behind what the essence of yoga is. Since we here in the west embrace this core difference wholeheartedly for the sake of the experience, or in ignorance of the dichotomy, in the shadow of this embrace many other lesser movements away from tradition can be made without apprehension for the greater good, and that is where I make my case for the introduction of sounds and music into your practice that may not be considered traditional as long as it benefits you.