Relax! Don’t do it…when you want to go to it


“Yoga is like music…there is no end” Sting.   I’m known for my music in my yoga classes.  I’m ok with this but many may not know that a lot is going on behind my song lists.  I plan carefully the intension of the music, timing and message.

Why? Because often we can tap into the emotions with the sound.  With music we often have a past with it.  We tend to categorize ourselves into what we feel we hate or like and we let it become our personality.

As a child I would listen to The Beatles on my Mom’s old 45 record player.   Of course today when I listen to their songs the meanings are quite different.   Therefore with our age we will change, develop and grow; kinda like a wine!.   Funniest is when I would sing to songs only to discover the words I was singing were wrong; many Radiohead songs for example.  Just like that experience with music, yoga’s meaning and the experience changes.  Something in the mind said “That makes more sense now.”  Ever tried headstand and had a teachers words make sense and you put that into play?  You were open to considering it.

Just like yoga if I allow myself to let go of the boundaries I gave myself I can see that the horizon is much larger than I gave it credit for.  Maybe it isn’t ALL Jazz or Rap you dislike – but instead be open to an artist. Instead of generalizing we can observe our reaction, pause and consider what that was about.

Music is powerful and can stir emotion. I’ve had students release and start to cry on the mat.  Not only with the yoga but I timed the music with the pose and intension/focus.  Often though the crying was something that person is or had gone thru that is released.  The sounds and poses only helped them.   We store a lot of feelings we may not be aware of.  When you think about it we are so carefully guarded and protect ourselves.  Have you ever noticed love songs  discussing the impact of the heart?  “She broke my heart”.  We feel so deeply physically in the heart and it is scary to let go of it.  Often times we are addicted to the pain- looking for the next item to disappoint us because that is easier than changing.

I once had a student who came up to me so enraged that I had used “The Who” in my mix.  She told me she ‘wanted to rip her ears out.’  Immediately I discussed why she felt this way – it wasn’t the music.  Just as I like to teach, the only control you have is your reaction to it, I wasn’t sure why she was more set on blame than dealing with the emotion.  Even her friends came up after to tell me she was going through a personal loss.  I only regret that she didn’t make this connection with her reaction and others around her saw it.

Often in life we will have distraction and our peace is within.  “Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work.  It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”

When I teach women who are about to give birth; they know all too well how powerful the mind is.  While delivering they will have tons of distractions, noise and hard work.  They have to breathe and find their own ‘zone’.  Tone, songs, sounds help and we know this to be true to help the body and mind especially in times when we are challenged.

Interesting how we know it helps women giving birth but we loose track of applying it elsewhere.  Even busy Mom’s can find the ‘calm mind’ with children screaming around them if they use the breath.

In my class the music is there to help you learn to concentrate and breathe.  You can chose to reflect on the sounds in a fun positive way or focus so much that you don’t even hear it.  It takes practice and becomes a exercise of the mind.

I have XM, Pandora, I-Tunes, Spotify and various music options; so I often just flip and surprised by what it lands on.  Hearing artists old and new.  Songs that give new meaning and some that send me back to former times. Sometimes I add in nature sounds to my mixes.  Lately I had one with children at a playground.  Point was with the noise around you, can you see that you are not a part of it, pause and watch it go past you.   The mind jumps from thought to thought like a monkey.  Train the monkey to stay put by watching your breath. It may not do it at first; just like a child throwing a fit.  Just try it again and again and see that it calms down.

Yes, I do sing in my car.  I’m surprised that I haven’t had more cars honking but I sing and without a care who see’s me.   I encourage singing in the car, shower or office!  Yes we sing at my office – often to the dislike of a few around us. Yet the older, lets call it mature, colleagues like to sing while we work; tossing out classics to see if someone else remembers it.  “You don’t have to be beautiful…to turn me on.”  Besides when you sing the exhale is used and often longer, so for those taking shallow breathes all day, this helps your body and your mind; even if you don’t know it. So  Snow Whites “Whistle While You Work” may have a point that means more now than it did when I was a child.

There is no end as Sting said.  It keeps developing, growing, breaking down and changing; which is really the beginning if you think about how it revolves around and around (Like a Record!)
Now – “If your happy and you know it clap your hands”  – that song often puts a smile on faces and sends us back to a moment in time.  Clap Clap!