Music and Yoga: Timeless and Always New
Many years ago, I took my mother to Massey Hall and surprised her with concert tickets. As she recognized the first of Yanni’s songs, she turned to me with great enthusiasm and said, “That’s my song!” The venue was intimate, the music exquisite and this shared moment in time, very special.
Fast-forward almost thirty years: my 94 year-old mother and I have listened to Yanni many times together this summer. In the past, we listened to recordings on cassettes. Today, we listen to my Spotify playlist on a wireless speaker. This past July, I attend another Yanni concert and noticed that while some things were unchanged, there were also so many apparent differences from when we first saw him in concert years ago.
The Budweiser Stage is large, the population is Toronto at it’s multicultural best and technology prevails enabling us to watch Yanni and his ensemble on large screens. My husband is with me but because of our Yanni connection, I wish to share a taste of the evening and a sampling of his intense and soulful music with my mother. Sending her video Snaps throughout the evening, she texts me back, “Give Yanni my regards.”
Years pass and much changes but in spite of all the change, much remains constant and there is always an underlying unity to everything. For example, each time one steps onto one’s yoga mat, it is always new and different yet the yoga remains as the foundation and the constant element. At Yanni’s recent concert one could easily observe how he has been embraced by so many cultures around the world, and how his beautiful music has spanned the years. I also reflected on how my yoga has carried me across the bridge of time, meeting my needs at every step and junction along the way.
Learning to Pay Attention at YogaBuds
The syllable gu means “darkness” and ru means “light.” My students often hear my belief that the guru is really an inner source of illumination that awakens awareness and transforms the darkness. I stress that the light is actually the Self within us and that we must strive to access our inner light and become our own best guide.
Yoga is not infallible and the wrong pose or a pose executed wrongly, or an incorrect sequence or practice can result in the worsening of a condition, cause an injury, or create agitation or disturbance in the mind. At YogaBuds, students learn how to pay attention and to bring an acute awareness to all that we do, moment-to-moment both on and off the mat. In turn, we learn to be more present in real time and better able to listen closely, and respond, to our body mind’s messaging. Then our yoga really begins to meet our needs.
A Kidney Stone, Pain and Yoga
In the past few months I learned that I had a kidney stone. Although the doctors consistently discounted the stone as the source of my pain because it was not causing an obstruction nor passing, I believed otherwise. My yoga training has taught me to be highly attuned to my body’s sensations; to trust in myself and in yoga; and, how to explore and work with pain, my own and others. Listening closely to my body, its messages directed me to what was needed to modify in my practice and how to do it. By being mindful and by paying attention, it became apparent which poses were helpful and which were more likely to be causing irritation, inflammation or pain. For example, when I stopped practising inversions, my pain eased.
In the weeks prior to the shock wave Lithotripsy procedure scheduled to pulverize the stone, I continued to modify my practice. With the intention of trying to bring a sense of ease and softness to the act of breaking the stone, a hard mass, my practice included more restorative yoga poses with meditations focused on the theme of softness. I would never really know if these intentions and practises would help but I knew that it certainly couldn’t hurt! As the doctors settled me onto the table on the morning of the procedure, I began to practise my meditation just when the sedation was being administered and took effect. Thankfully, the procedure was successful and I am once again, pain-free. Perhaps my yoga truly made a difference.
Continuity, Change and the Underlying Unity
Recently, I saw a photo of myself from my early twenties. Even though so much has changed, my personal style, clothing and smile have remained the same as has the environment in which the photo was taken. In fact, the photo was taken very close to where these words are being written. Although photographs freeze time, and the passage of time certainly creates and reflects changes, much remains the same. I am immensely grateful that my sustained yoga practice has been and will be my constant amidst the multitude of changes that life will undoubtedly bring. And through all that is yet to come, I hope to continue to see the underlying unity in everything and go with the flow with awareness and acceptance just as the river waters meander along its many winding bends.
“Yoga allows you to find a new kind of freedom that you may not have known even existed. To a yogi, freedom implies not being battered by the dualities of life.” –B.K.S. Iyengar
“Life moves. There’s no death. There’s no birth. Life is like a river… moving without any stop.” B.K.S. Iyengar