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
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.
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 matt, 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?
January 31, 2010
Coming from the mindset of rigorous workouts building lean, hard muscle slowly over time, certain aspects of yoga poses are always a breath of fresh air for me. When I’m in the gym, motivational music can be very helpful to get through my workout goals.
When I’m learning asanas that are challenging, motivational music can have an equally beneficial effect. For example, one of my favorite poses is headstand. When doing headstand, ten seconds can be very strenuous if you concentrate on engaging multiple muscle groups while concentrating on the lift at the shoulders. I found that playing some of my favorite rock music at the time that only had 2-3 minute songs was a good way to get both motivated and encouraged by the attitude of the songs. I didn’t worry about how long I’ve been in the headstand because all I had to ask myself was whether or not a whole song went by to gauge time. Soon enough I felt confident in a good headstand posture without strain or uneasiness, and I didn’t need the music anymore, enjoying the silence within.
January 31, 2010
Sounds are around us always. You can close your eyes and block vision from affecting your mind as an outside stimulus, but how do you close your ears? When performing asanas or dhyana, choices can be made to include sounds or not. Even with the choice not to include sound, there will be sounds in our environment we have no control over. This contrast can be applied to your choice of sound to be considered. For example, I’ve made simple stereo recordings of waves crashing on a shore at night for the purpose of listening back when I was nowhere near a beautiful beach. This kind of sound is more universal than something like the sound of a piano or trumpet, and deep in our minds we have a closer connection with the sounds of the earth that have been there since before a piano or a trumpet was invented. The waves are soothing to my mind because I have learned through my experience with the beach to feel that way. Therefore, it is a good choice for me to include this facsimile of an outside stimulus to still my mind during meditation.
Music, in terms of what we buy to feel a certain way, doesn’t have to be the only kind of sound to consider or avoid when meditating or creating a mood. If your asanas are in need of outside motivation to push you through them, music that physically motivates will make it a positive experience for you. Or the sounds of birdsongs may have that affect on you. Everyone’s ear-brain is different because it is based on individual unique life experiences. Think about what soothes and motivates you in terms of available sound and ask yourself if you’re willing to incorporate that into your practice. You may surprise yourself.
January 27, 2010
What sounds are appropriate for you while doing yoga? If you are in a class setting, the teacher may set the tone with no sound, meaning the instructor will not introduce sounds willingly, or perhaps sound is an integral part of the class, as in kirtan. Music is a very personal thing. Yoga is a very personal thing. I’m open to listening to any form of music, but maybe not so comfortable with someone else choosing what I listen to while doing yoga. Enter Metal Yoga.
My music of choice is Metal. And the philosophy behind Metal’s genre applies comfortably to my yoga practice. Those of us who listen to Metal understand that behind the aggressive sounds comprised of forceful drums, thick staccato guitars, and earth-shattering bass rumble, resides a place of inner peace and transformation of negativity into realizations of victory. Through Metal we turn anger into motivation to realize positive goals, and live in moments of self-empowerment through being surrounded by these sounds and feeling their energy.
Maybe simple droning sounds or relaxing tones, either natural or synthesized, are all you want and need for your yoga. Maybe yoga is just a thing you do for a set time with a certain frequency during the week, then you don’t think about it until you do it again. Or, maybe when you’re done and roll up your mat you are still doing yoga, walking, talking, working, going to bed doing yoga, dreaming yoga. It’s your choice. No answer is the wrong answer, no way is the wrong way. Your way is the right way.