I just got back from some more Yoga training. Although I didn’t completely connect with the training itself, I always bring something positive back with me. This time it was the music.
The music was the most memorable thing. The songs this particular Yoga instructor chose to play were uplifting, catchy, awesome songs, and none of them were chants (shock .. horror), none of them had a sitar, and none of them were ‘new age’. Some songs were rock and some were pop. What impressed me was that he spends as much preparation time on his playlists as he does on his sequences. They were as unique as he was, and I had a revelation!
I often put together playlists of ‘Yoga’ music and never really feel connected to them at all. They become like 'elevator' music. Background music with it's only purpose being to drown out the occasional embarrassing release of gas, or to set the scene and make the class feel more spiritual because you can hear 'Om Shanti' being sung in the distance. I don’t spend much time on the preparation, and I often spend a good amount of time dithering at the I-pod doc during the class to skip a song here and there, change the volume, or even change a playlists because I’ve decided half way through the class that I don’t like it. I realised during this course that if I choose to play music, then it’s a really important part of the class. Why? It sets the mood. It can make, or break a class. Music helps to lift the energy of the class, or can help to bring everyone back down to earth. My Yoga students have no choice but to hear it, so I should respect them and spend more time preparing it.
So, yesterday morning I put together a playlist of Aretha, Elton and The Stones (to name a few). I love every single song on this list and it showed in the class. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face whilst I was teaching in the afternoon! After the class, my students were high. That’s the only way I can describe them. They were high! One student told me that the class was perfect from start to finish, and one said she’ll never listen to ‘Tiny Dancer’ the same way again. A regular student of a few years said it was the best class I'de ever taught. All of the feedback was positive.
Full on! Why hadn't I done this years ago???
Yesterday I became a better Yoga teacher. How? I felt at home in the class. All of the songs and the melodies were like home to me and this made the class in its entirety...me.
I'm interested to hear what music Yoga students and teachers out there on The Yoga Social choose to listen to whilst practicing?
What music inspires you when you're in a Vinyasa class? Or in a Yin class?
Do you like traditional Yoga chants and mantras of Kirshna Das or Deva Premal? Or do you like the not so traditional drum and base? or Jazz?
Below is a small list of what I've been playing lately ... I just can't help think I'm being too boring and safe.
Yoga Groove - Souldfood
The Yoga Sessions - Go-Ray and Duke
World Yoga - Putamayo (various artists)
Om Yoga Volume 1 (modern music for Vinyasa flow) - Various Artisits
Please give me some ideas!!!!!!!
Angry? Depressed? Stressed? Anxious?
Yoga, is a practice of various disciplines to help control our minds restlessness.
Today, there have been many studies on the mental benefits of practicing Yoga. These studies show that Yoga can help bring a whole lot of light to our hearts and lives. The meditation, breathing and exercise aspects of Yoga can help to decrease stress and improve quality of life.
Regular Yoga practice has proven to improve mood and anxiety as it increases GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) levels in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter which serves the brain by firing neurones and helps maintain the balance of your body and mind in times of stress. Lower levels can tense your muscles, speed up your heart rate, and generally effect your overall ability to function. Higher levels can promote balance and wellbeing, reduce stress, depression and anxiety and improve sleep.
One German program studied 24 'emotionally distressed' women. Though not formally diagnosed with depression, all women had experienced stress for at least half of the previous 90 days. The women were split into two groups. The control group went about their normal daily routine and the Yoga group were asked to take two 90 minutes classes per week for three months, as well as maintaining their normal daily activities.
At the end of three months, women in the Yoga group reported improvements in perceived stress, depression, anxiety, energy, fatigue, and wellbeing. Headaches, back pain and insomnia were also resolved much more in the Yoga group than in the control group.
Yoga helps to regulate or 'tame' our stress response system. When this happens, all of those annoying physiological responses we experience during stress or pain, such as our heart thumping, heavy breathing, tightness in the chest and sweaty palms are decreased. We feel like we have more control and can cope a little easier.
One Pranayama (breathing) study on depression examined 60 alcoholic men for three weeks. In the first week, each of them went through a standard detoxification program and then for the rest of the study, some (randomly chosen) were asked to practice Pranayama six days a week for the next two weeks. After the three weeks, levels of depression dropped by 75% in the Pranayama group compared to the 60% in the standard group. Also, levels of two stress hormones, cortisol and corticotropin, dropped in the Pranayama group, but not in the standard group.
Most of the Yoga practiced today in the west is Hatha Yoga, which includes Yoga poses (Asana), Yoga breathing techniques (Pranayama) and meditation and relaxation (Dhyana and Savasana). Each of these disciplines (or practices) help us to slow down, focus on one thing at a time and quieten the minds restlessness.
Stillness of the mind. Like waves in the ocean becoming more and more calm. Don't we all deserve this?!
You know that Yogi? We all know him ... or her! That yogi dressed in white sitting on the floor (usually on the beach) in lotus pose looking extremely serene and calm. The one on the cover of every Yoga magazine. The one in the brochure for the Summer Yoga Health Retreat. Well, what if that image isn't just a silly representation of the stereo-typical hippy Yogi who doesn't exist? What if this 'utopian' state is actually easier to attain than we think, naturally attained, no drugs required?
Let's put it to the test.
If you're stressed out. Try some Yoga.
Believe it, be open to it and allow the light to shine.
* pranayama study - Sudarshan Kriya Yogic Breathing - Journal of Alternative and Complimentary medicine, New York, 2005. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16131297
* German program - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16319785
The Yoga Social Team