Thursday, December 29, 2011

Yoga in the Prison System

If you've ever seen a Robert Sturman photograph, you'll know how graceful and gifted he is with a camera. His love of both yoga and music have taken him to many places around the world, creatingan incredible body of stunning work. Now his craft has taken him into the prison system of California...

The following interview gives some insight into what yoga is bringing to prison inmantes and how Robert is bringing his art to a place often completely devoid of beauty.

Q: Please briefly describe the work your doing in the penitentiary:
A: After years of creating with yogis on the beaches of Southern California, I was invited into the California Penitentiary system as a visiting artist to make art of prisoners who were practicing yoga.

Q: From your experience there, what kind of impact do you think yoga is having in the prison system?
A: Most of us do not understand and will never understand what it is like to be imprisoned. After class I usually get in conversations with a few of the men and here are a few things I heard them say.

"Savasana was the first time I ever closed my eyes in the open prison environment."
"When the teacher said try to be angry from this place (after savasana) one of the inmates told me later that he could not get angry if his freedom depended on it. That's how relaxed he was."
"They said things like it was an opportunity to get away, even just for an hour, and be somewhere different."
The warden's words: "One thing I've noticed is that the guys who are doing the yoga are making better choices."

Q: How do you feel the work you're doing is impacting the prisoners?
A: On a long term note, the work I am doing is raising awareness and making it normal that yoga is something being offered in the prison systems.

On an immediate note, the prisoners have a great time being in the pictures. The choice that they have made to enroll in the yoga class is a choice to hold onto what little dignity most of them have left being locked up. People light up when they are being seen. And, seeing is pretty much what an artist does.
After class, the warden let me work one on one with a few of the men. There was one particular model really was great to work with and we made many strong pieces together. When we were done working he said, "Damn that was cool. When I get pout of here I want to be a yoga model." I kind of smiled to myself knowing he would be the guy featured in my Yoga Journal article.

I went back to that prison three months later and the article had just come out with a full page picture of him in Sukhasana and I was able to give him a copy.

Q: As an artist, can you please describe your compositional techniques, and what inspires you to create your art?
A:Composition is a matter of knowing it feels right within me. That is all I go by.

Q: Can you describe your creative relationship to your subjects being that they're often yoga teachers and musicians?
A: Yoga is very beautiful and that is why I continue to return to creating with them. There is a longing to touch the divine that is very easy for me to capture through asanas. I do yoga and I make art. The yogis are my models. Degas would be jealous. Music – I love music and I cannot explain it. The arts were invented because words were limiting in describing the extraordinary beauty all around us. Music is immensely sacred to me – It is its own art and touches me in places that no other art can reach. I am inspired by the music and my work aspires to touch that place. It is a lofty goal – but this is what keeps me going deeper into the mystery of creation. I am a musician — I am just presenting it to the best of my ability with a different palette.


Transparency Tk 2

Hi everyone!  I wrote a transparency blog post a few weeks ago then pulled it down to rethink and reword. I really appreciate the support that people who read it sent in as these first few months of operating haven't been without their challenges.

As we try to create a website dedicated to the music of yoga we find ourselves humbled by the immense effort it takes to launch a company. The support and excitement we've received has been amazing... and for that we're eternally grateful. But at this point the challenges seem endless.
Funding is of course hard to come by... many investors see the profit margins of digital music to be too small for their interests. Describing the big picture takes time and patience... many months can be spent with a potential investor only to have them decide to back away from investing.

Website bugs are tricky little critters! We've had some critical issues that everyone says is par for the BETA course, beta meaning that we're still in an open testing phase of our launch. Regardless of the reassurance I get, it's still hard knowing some people have had a frustrating time browsing our site. My deepest and most sincere apologies! We hope you understand and come back to enjoy the vibes soon...
On the positive side, my co-founder Amani Friend has done an incredible job of filling the site with almost 10,000 hand-picked albums from all over the world. Legally licensed with 70% of the profits going to the artists, it was a monumental undertaking for him which he did all on a sweat equity basis. Both he and my other co-founder Craig Kohland then went through and picked out a wide array of the best opening, building, peak, cool down and relaxation songs for teachers to use in making playlists. To my knowledge this has never been done before in the history of modern yoga music. It's truly a triumph.

We've also been blessed in the past two months with an amazing array of advisors, industry experts, marketing gurus, tech wizards and other timely angels. Their sole, soul mission seems to be simply to lend a helping hand and ask for nothing in return. Can't argue with that!

Finally, Craig did an amazing job these past few months of bringing the YogiTunes team to 3 very important festivals: Wanderlust Tahoe, Bhaktifest and Earthdance Northern California, where he created the first ever 'Yoga For Peace' event. All three festivals were an excellent opportunity for YogiTunes to get out to the people in a living, breathing way that serves us as much as it does the company. What, there are real people out there? I thought I was just relating to a digital world through my 24" monitor.

So that's it for now folks... more to come on the transparency tip soon!

Written by Alex King-Harris here, CEO of YogiTunes (aka Rara Avis)

Autumn Harvest Practice

Crisp, crunchy leaves of red, gold, and pumpkin orange has been slowly falling off the trees that stand as sentinels around the hay field that is my backyard.  It is a blessing to have the space and privacy a Midwestern, rural backyard affords and I am thankful to exist here.  Welcome Fall!!

A great aspect of home, personal practice is the creative way you can include your environment and invite nature into your asana and meditation.  In this offering, I invite you to connect directly with autumn by practicing with a tree for 4 weeks.

If you haven’t tried this before, autumn is a fantastic starting point.  Try taking your mat (or just bare feet!) and find a tree.  Commit to coming to this spot once a week for 4 weeks.  Set up your mat towards the tree as if it was your teacher.  To center in, take a few rounds of breath.  Breathe in a little more than you think you can and press out the breath a little longer than you think you can.  Notice your enhanced awareness and use it to study the tree.

Notice all the nuances of the tree, practicing dharana (one-pointed focus).  See the bark, the bugs, the sticks and stems, see everything in detail and then all at once too.  Can you see the microcosm and the macrocosm at the same time?  Listen closely to the natural sounds of the tree as well.

Be attentive.

After this meditation, bring yourself through a series of your own personal practice poses and culminate in Vrksasana (Tree Pose).  Depending on your time and your needs, this can be any style you wish and for as long or as short as you desire.  Once you peak to Vrksasana, see if you can embody the tree in front of you.  Allow movement as the tree moves, merge with its essence.  Allow a long hold, but release before the point of strain or forceful gripping.

Yoga asanas are a reflection of deep meditation and joining with the forces of nature in our material world.  This connection allows us a path to Samadhi (union with the divine)and a way to reflect on what is true, for in nature, everything is perfect and in balance.  We can bring this essence in to ourselves and clear our inner disturbances.

I ask you to try this for 4 weeks because of the incredible changes you see in the autumn with trees.  Try to journal about your experience and allow your creativity to bubble and be inspired by fall.  Please feel free to share your experience in this space.

As you undertake this practice, I offer a YogiTunes playlist for your indoor practice of yoga music to inspire your autumn asana or relaxation practice at home or in the studio.  Enjoy!!!

-Written by Kirsten Hedden, who teaches at Namaste Wellness Studio in Peoria, IL

-Check out her new 'Harvest Playlist' on YogiTunes!

-Also for a delicious selection of Nature rich soundscapes, check out the YogiTunes Nature section

Crystal Light Bath

Yoga Music Therapy is something very dear to me. I personally took a 2 year apprenticeship in this amazing work when I was fresh out of music school, under the tutelage of then VancouverIsland based yoga teacher David Goulet.

His mastery of relaxation music, frequency, breathing techniques, yoga and diet helped many terminally ill people to heal themselves rapidly.

So when I bumped into my friend Ariana Sivan at a recent visit to Harbin Hot Springs, I was of course delighted to hear that she was offering something called a Crystal Light Bath. It works of the same philosophy that yoga music therapy does: Our energy centers have specific frequencies that they resonate at and can be brought back into alignment in a similar way that one would tune a musical instrument.

The following Q&A takes us a little deeper into the world of Crystals and how they can help bring balance and rejuvenation in such challenging and often stressful times.

Q: What is a Crystal Light Bath?
A: A Crystal Light Bath has 7, clear and highly-polished, cut-quartz crystals suspended about 10” above an individual lying on a massage table fully-clothed. Each crystal has been cut to a specific frequency and aligned above each energy center or chakra. Colored lights, matching the chakra colors, radiate light and energy through the crystals to each respective chakra, and shine on and off in certain rhythms to cleanse, balance, and align your energies. The one receiving the session rests face up, with eyes closed, bathing in the energy for 30-60 minutes.

Q: What’s it like to receive a session?
A: There are all types of experiences from the deeply profound to the most subtle energy shifts. It can range from a soothing meditation and deep rest to profound inner revelation, and even all in one session. Your system attunes to the high frequencies of energy that support healing at all levels; mental reprogramming, emotional rewiring, physical reconstructing and spiritual recharging. This work has a growing impact on health & consciousness with its inter-dimensional effect - a feeling of lightless of being. The vibrational patterns may manifest as higher levels of awareness and consciousness. Also, on a physical level, sometimes old injuries or surgeries are revisited to give healing energy to those areas, so there may be some slight discomfort, yet generally it passes fairly quickly.

Q: Where did it originate?
A: The concept of the Crystal Light Bath was channeled to Joao Teixeira de Faira, affectionately known as John of God, who had it developed for practical use & incorporated it as an important healing modality at his healing center, Casa de Dom Inacio (The Casa) in Abadiania, Brazil. It is prescribed for rejuvenation, alignment & balancing of our energy fields, which in turn, aids in the process of spiritual & physical healing. This allows deeper, more subtle energies to be brought in balance, allowing the body’s own natural healing mechanisms to function as they were designed to do.

Q: What are the scientific observations on Crystal therapy?
A: Crystals have some of the highest molecular orderliness found in nature. Light passing through the crystal will resonate with the structured patterns of the crystal. Water can take on a variety of molecular patterns. It is known that when water forms well organized and geometrically shaped molecule patterns, it has increased surface tension and bonding properties. This is the pure state of water found in healthy cell tissue, while ungeometric and disorganized water molecules are found in unhealthy cells and cancer cells. Thus, one explanation for the health giving effects of crystal therapy is that the well organized vibration resonating from the crystals helps to organize the water in our tissues and cells. Much of our understanding of crystal therapy was developed by Marcel Vogel, who spent his lifetime investigating quartz crystals. He designed experiments demonstrating the power of crystals to affect physical processes.

The experiments of Vogel and his associates proved the following:

* A precisely cut quartz crystal produces a constant vibration of the same frequency as water in its purest state.

* Moving water will pick up the vibration from the crystal through resonant interaction and this transferred charge will restructure the water.

* A cut crystal can be charged with intent to structure water. Since we are made up of 80-90% water this carries extremely strong implication for how our health can be affected.

Q: Who can benefit?
A: Everyone. That’s the beauty of it.

Q: When is it not recommended?
A: Never. The session is non-invasive and has no contra-indications.

Comments about the Crystal Light Bath…
-"Feel renewed, balanced & deeply relaxed."
-"Its mystical innate wisdom gives me exactly what I require every time!"
-"I felt my chakras vibrating and the energy emerging through my entire body."
-"I could feel the integration of my body, mind, spirit, & so gently."
-"Arose with a slight tingling sensation at the end which I can liken to feeling slightly more “alive”"

John of God, Casa De Dom Inacio, Brazil

Ariana’s Crystal Light Bath can be experienced at the world renowned Harbn Hot Springs. A worthwhile visit for anyone looking to relax, restore and realign.

And of course, Ariana is a BIG MUSIC FAN given that we here at YogiTunes also deal in healing frequencies of vibrational goodness. Check out her list of recommendations:
Interview by YogiTunes Co-Founder/CEO Alex King-Harris (aka Rara Avis)

Brown Chicken, Brown Cow

If you are totally confused by the title, let me say it’s a parent friendly way to say Boom-chicka-bow-wow without kids knowing you are using sexy speech. I heard it on road trip and adopted it into my sexy speak code.

The agni in my mula bhanda area (if you know what I mean ;), well it apparently died when I got pregnant. I was freaked out because from everything Hollywood had taught me, pregnant goddesses are supposed to be down with the boom boom. My libido didn’t get that message and after my little guy was born and my breasts turned into milk machines I still couldn’t find that fire. It’s taboo to talk about this stuff, so often a new mom is left alone, confused, and really nervous about being able to physically connect with her partner. So let me tell you something:


You are still sexy. You are still beautiful. You are still you, but may I say, even better! Your libido will return and rest assured, you are still attracted to your partner and they to you. Now breathe.

While there is no panacea to cure this phase automatically, there are some practices that helped me and that I want to share with you.
  • Vigorous Asana – if you want transformation, you have to stoke the fire. (Please check with your doctor to see if you are ready for this; as always, honor your body’s limits). Incorporate lots of standing poses and connect with your primal nature through the Earth.
  • Meditation on Mula Bhanda – in a seated pose, focus moving mula bhanda in and out, just as you are breathing. Increased awareness helps direct the fire within.
  • Ujjayi & Uddiyana Bhanda – Engage these elements when practicing asana. For your first practice post-partum (and with Dr’s OK) choose an experienced teacher to give you a customized sequence.
  • Nadi Shodhana – This pranayama will help balance you. Use caution with Kapalabhati, you will need the guidance of a senior teacher with experience post partum before you should engage in the breath of fire.
  • Physically Connect – Make a conscious effort to hold hands and every day set an intention to give your partner a kiss. No. Matter. What.
  • Love – consciously remind yourself of your appreciation for your partner, your gratitude in sharing a family, and feed your emotional connection.
  • Try Music – YogiTunes are just as great to inspire your intimate practice as your asana one. Start slow and build. Try yoga music designed to be fluid and fire inspired. Check out some of our Sensual Sutra playlists to find a soundtrack for your seduction.
  • Patience – This too shall pass. My midwife told me that the woman’s body is on a natural two year cycle as it takes about 2 years before a woman’s body is back to a prime ability to birth. It’s different for everyBODY. This means hormones remain out of whack for a while.
  • Read Together – read some sensual poems or find a fun Kama Sutra and try reading to one another. For some, this will be a new and somewhat awkward practice, but it evolves and easily becomes a favorite one.
  • Choose To Engage – Just like early morning asana practice, you have the choice to continue to sleep or to wake up and practice. The more you practice, the easier it becomes. You will ease the samskara that tells you you’re not into it. Once you get going, your libido agni will rekindle.

I wish someone had told me these things when I was worried and confused. I wish women felt the freedom to talk about this more too. Believe me – this was hard to pour out.

I hope you can find solace through these practices and use the music to enhance the mood. Please feel free to share your own experiences and practices in the comments. Until next time……Brown Chicken, Brown Cow.

-Written by Kirsten Hedden, who teaches at Namaste Wellness Studio in Peoria, IL

Check out YogiTunes's Sensual Sutras collection:

- some pretty juicy stuff in there!

More Sensual Love Making Playlists coming soon!!

Reduce Stress with Slow Breathing - the App

Well folks, they say there's an app for everything. This time it's for something really helpful... taking the science of breath to a new level, MyBrainSolutions has developed an app that helps users slow their breathing down in order to experience increased levels of relaxation.

 What's really interesting is that the app helps you find your RESONANT FREQUENCY. Which as a sound healer, I have to say piqued my interest.  I love resonant frequencies... and what's so cool is that they're different and unique for everyone. It turns out that when it comes to relaxation, it's the space between your heart beats that is most important - and it has to vary. If the space between beats is steady, it's a sign of stress.

Relaxation comes with an organic rhythm... something that we can always be reminded of when we're in nature, surrounded by asyncronous, assymetric rhythms that pulse in patterns that are deeply nourishing for our beings at all levels.

More about the app:
Called MyCalmBeat, the app uses a heart rate monitor that attaches to the ear to detect a person's optimal breathing rate, or resonant frequency, which is unique to each person.

At this breathing rate, the company says the user can increase the variability of their heart rate to lower stress levels.  "People don't realize the profound impact that slow breathing can have until they actually sit down and do it for 10 minutes and then they feel completely different," said Savannah DeVarney, vice president of product marketing for MyBrainSolutions, the creators of the app.

After finding their ideal breathing rate, animated exercises show users how to breathe at that rate, while the heart monitor provides feedback about the variability of their heart rate.

"Normally people think of 65 beats per minute as a good resting heart rate. But we're not necessarily looking at heart rate -- we're looking at the degree to which the space between consecutive heart beats varies," DeVarney explained. When a person is stressed their heart rate becomes consistent and variability is minimized. But when relaxed, variability is maximized, slowing down as you breathe out and speeding up as you breathe in.

"We know that for most people their resonant frequency is between 7.5 and 4.5 breaths per minute. The software maps your heart rate variability through each of those rates to find the breathing rate where it becomes maximized," said DeVarney. This frequency remains consistent throughout adult life, and usually only varies during childhood or pregnancy.

DeVarney said the company collaborated with Dr Richard Gevirtz, a professor at the Alliant International University in San Diego, California, who conducts research in heart rate variability. She said in people who meditate for hours increased heart rate variability is one of the characteristics of being in a highly relaxed state.

"Meditators will find their resonant frequency naturally through trial and error, so we know that there's something in that."

Other biofeedback-based heart rate monitor apps include Instant Heart Rate which uses the iPhone's camera to detect a user's heart rate, rather than an external ear clip.

The company recommends training ten minutes a day, three times a week.

The app is available for iPhone, Android and Blackberry.

For Sonic Support in the process of DEEP RELAXATION, check out our co-founder Craig Kohland's album:

one of the best relaxation albums ever!

The Breakfast Yoga Club - BYC in the House!

INTERVIEW with Breakfast Yoga Club founder Ricky Tran and Houston BYC founder Melissa Smith, both who hail from Texas...

YogiTunes Co-Founder Rara Avis is about to head out that way to dive a little deeper into the thriving Texas yoga community - Austin here we come! Also Desert Dwellers is booked for the Texas Yoga Conference this coming February, when we'll be trying to hook up with the BYC to do a serious commUNITY throw down!

Q: Can you briefly describe what the BYC is exactly?

A: The Breakfast Yoga Club is a yoga social for building commUNITY. Our mission is to unite the yoga community by offering fun yoga + music events with different studios working together when possible. The vision came from Ricky Tran in hopes to unite and build community within studios. It sprouted in Dallas and has spread to other cities, Austin, Houston, and oklahoma city. Each city has it's own flare to it with the entire emphasis of building strong bonds between teachers, studios and students alike.

Q: What inspired you to come up with the idea for the BYC?
A: We witnessed too much separation in yoga communities everywhere and brainstormed on a way to bring yogis together at home in Dallas. What brings people together? Yoga, great music and food (breakfast).

Q; When did it form?
A: June 2010

Q: Who's currently participating?
A: The cities are: Dallas, Houston, Austin & Oklahoma City. In Houston, we first find a location outside of a studio, like a park, community center, store, etc. and then build the class around that neighborhood. Finding all the studios, gyms, anything that has yoga and inviting them to be a part of the class. We have a 2 hour round robin yoga class with music, a featured charity and a representative of each studio teaching. It rocks!

Q: How often do you do events?
A: Some offer events quarterly or monthly, other cities more often.

Q: What's the future vision?
A: We'd love to see BYC in every major Texas City and spread from there. We'd like for leaders in each community to step up and bring people together for yoga, music, and the community regardless of practice, studio or lineage. If you'd like to start one in your city, send us an email, let's talk.

Q: Please tell us a little bit about where the Texas yoga community is at right now
A: (Ricky) I was blown away at the last BYC Houston and the graciousness of the studios that participated. 2 of the studios (Yoga West & Yoga on the Brazos) actually cancelled their classes and asked their students to come out and support the event. We had over 175 attend our last one. It was so inspiriting to see so much diversity in teaching styles and in practices come together. I think the yoga community needs this right now. Together we grow Yoga. Apart, we just create our own thing... I want more than ever to see all studios succeed. The more we hold each other up, the easier it is for all of us to rise and shine.

Q: Can you recommend any albums or playlists on our site that you really dig?
A: I'm really digging Steve Gold, Sean Johnson & the Wild Lotus Band, and Desert Dwellers :)

If you're interested in creating a Breakfast Yoga Club in your area, check them out at - reach out to Ricky or Melissa and rock it for your community today!

Music for Relaxation

The first time I met Craig Kohland I felt an overwhelming sense of warmth emanating from his heart and into mine. I was hired to be his sound engineer for something called Zen Dancing... a seminal experience in the Los Angeles yoga and ecstatic community created by yoga teacher - Micheline Berry. It's an improvised live music ecstatic dance journey that featured Craig's band: the Shaman's Dream World Groove Ensemble

Little did I know as I was helping to prepare the sound for that night that this would become my first real yoga music family. I also had no idea that Craig and I would go on to produce household records in the yoga music community and spawn project after project with teachers, musicians and other talented yogis that ultimately would culminate in the launching of this website together.

What I also didn't know at the time was that Craig was a master of creating music for relaxation. His three albums Breathing, Bindu and Prana are staples in many a yoga teacher arsenal. They've also been extensively used in other healing arts such as massage, meditation, hospice care, tai chi, qi gong, and birthing work.

I found a great article online that talks about the power of relaxation and why it's so important in the yogic system. The following is an excerpt from it that talks further about the state of rest in our modern culture -

"Nature teaches us how to relax and rest to perfection—the infant is a past-master in the science. But as we have grown older we have acquired many artificial habits and have allowed Nature’s original habits to lapse. And so at the present time the people of the Western world may well accept from the Yogis a little teaching along the lines of this subject.

The average physician could give some very interesting testimony on the subject of the failure of the people to understand the first principles of relaxation-he knows that a large percentage of the nervous troubles of the people are due to ignorance of the subject of “rest.”

Rest and relaxation are very different things from “loafing,” “laziness,” etc. On the contrary, those who have mastered the science of relaxation are usually the most active and energetic kind of people, but they waste no energy; with them every motion counts."

If you've ever had the joy of playing or making music with Craig you'll know that when it comes to laying down a rhythm... creating a melody or finding harmony, every motion counts. Craig is a master of getting rid of what's unnecessary until you're left with a masterpiece. Just like the sculptors from the romantic period, he knows just what to pull away so that everything that is there, really should be there.
In this day and age of so much noise, distraction and unnecessary production of 'things', this gift in-and-of-itself is relaxing. Then take into account the way in which he blends together music from different cultures into an exotic melange of spicy beats and tasty soundscapes, one is always left feeling deeply relaxed, nourished and rejuvenated after listening to one of his albums.

The feature for this article is PRANA:

"An alluring journey into world fusion trance music, Prana brings you hypnotic melodies and rhythmic grooves featuring master musicians, traditional chants and exotic environmental sounds from many countries."

The opening song from this album is perhaps one of the most popular yoga songs in existence... I can't tell you how many times i've walked into a yoga studio somewhere to take a class only to hear the teacher begin by playing the title track "Prana". It's just simply the bomb. So if you don't have it in your collection yet, go ahead and treat yourself... you'll be happy you did, I promise.

Commentary by YogiTunes co-founder/CEO Rara Avis.

Yogi Karaoke: The Greatest Car Concert Ever

The first thing you need to know is that I totally rock the house with my car concerts. I’m the person that you give strange looks to at the stop light. I’m beating the drum of the steering wheel, expressing the soul of the song through weird facial contortions, and if the window is down – you will hear me belting out my bhakti.

Yoga music, and especially devotional chanting has been my main yoga practice during my recent period of intense travel. I love to have a good sing-along and it occurs to me that the holidays are a time when everyone needs a great playlist to jam in the car before contemplating the endless “Is Yoga a Religion?,” questions that often creep up from concerned family members.

Fortunately, this holiday, YogiTunes is ready and able to supply you with the music you need to save your sanity. My own personal offering is a playlist dedicated to my favorite songs to car karaoke. The MC Yogi groove, Krishna Dub Remix (featuring Jai Uttal and Sharon Gannon), has been a saving grace for me through this time of busy-ness. In fact, the entire Elephant Power album is “singable” and would be a great addition for any YogiTunes road trip.

I’m always on the lookout for great, sing-along songs. What are some of your favorite sing-along YogiTunes? If we cultivate the intention, hopefully we will see Bhakti Yoga Car Concerts at every stoplight in America and BEYOND!

-Written by Kirsten Hedden, who teaches at Namaste Wellness Studio in Peoria, IL


SUP Yoga Interview with Lauren Peterson

Q: Where did SUP originate?
A: Some believe SUP Yoga originated in Florida. SUP Yoga really did not start taking off until around 2009, it was about this time that YouTube videos of SUP Yoga started appearing on the web.

Q: Why do you think it has become such a widespread trend, so rapidly?
A: SUP Yoga, is unique and offers something for everyone. Yoga is therapeutic, as well as a work out. When you put those two characteristics together with water and nature it adds another dimension to Yoga.

Q: What postures do you find especially difficult to perform on a SUP board compared to on a mat?
A: Any of the one legged standing postures can be quite difficult on a stand up paddle board. Asana’s like: Vrksasana: Tree pose, Virabhadrasana III: Warrior III, Utthita Hasta Padangus
tasana: Extended Hand-To-Big-Toe Pose, or Natarajasana: Lord of the Dance Pose. Standing on one leg can be challenging, standing on one leg on a board on the water, adds another set of difficulties.. Although difficult and challenging nothing is impossible.

Q: Do you find that SUP yoga forces you to focus on internal sensations more?
A: There are no mirrors in SUP Yoga for individuals to check their alignment; instead they have to use their internal organs to sense when they have reached that point of correct alignment. It is amazing how connected the yoga practitioner is to their board as well. The board identifies if the weight of the yogi is too heavy during weight transference or not enough.


Q: Is SUP yoga practiced on the open ocean or mostly in bays?
A: SUP Yoga can be practiced in the open ocean as well as in bays. Classes are mostly held in bays because there are less chance for certain variables to interfere with the class. These variables include, wind, current, tide, waves, marine life, etc. To help with these variables, some sup yoga classes offer an anchor to keep the board stationary, as well as keep the class together. It depends on the level of difficulty you want for your yoga practice. The great thing about sup yoga is that every class is different; the conditions are never the same. It really strengthens your yoga practice, and makes you learn to let go.

Q: Are some SUP boards easier to practice on than others?
There are yoga mats that are easier to practice on than others, as is the same with boards. Anything less than 10’ can be challenging, for sup yoga its best to stick with boards 10’ or more in length. Width no less than 28.5”. Any board around 30” is more ideal for width. Thickness: Nothing less than 4.25”. Anything with a lot of volume is always great as well, anything less than 142.3 L could be a little bit of a challenge.

Those dimensions are great for boards used for sup yoga classes, especially for beginning to intermediate sup yogis. As you get more comfortable with doing yoga on a stand up paddle, it can be fun to change the board used, with more challenging dimensions. This can change the muscles you engage and your focus during your sup yoga practice as well.

Q: Is SUP Yoga seasonal, or can SUP Yoga be practiced year round?
A: Sup Yoga can be practiced indoors as well, for those places in the winter where the water freezes and outdoor activity might decrease. There are two options: Place two Bosu domes under the board, or Indo Board offers the Indo Board IndoFLO Gigante' Cushion that works well too under the board. Both of
these give the feeling of being on the water, and can enhance or prepare you for sup yoga when the snow and ice melt and spring arrives.

Q: Is there a SUP yoga hub?
A: Florida seems to be the most popular location right now for SUP Yoga, with California in a close second.

Q: What do you think the future of SUP yoga holds?
A: Our hope is that SUP Yoga begins to pop up in more places around the world. Yoga is becoming more and more integrated into the school curriculum; we would like to see SUP Yoga get into the schools as well.

If you’d like to learn more about SUP Yoga, or find a sup yoga class near you, or a sup yoga retreat check out our website at

Written by Brooke Kettering

Music to Make Love to?

Recently, when I created a Facebook ad to help spread the word about music that's great for love making, I was DENIED by Facebook (twice) for using inappropriate language. Are you kidding me? Few things are sacred in the world these days... Facebook has been accused of everything from data mining to allowing hate groups to proliferate, but I can't advertise music that helps people have better sex?

Something we get a lot of from our fans is the following quote: "I use your music to make love to all the time. I just put it on repeat and it helps me and my partner drop deeply into a space of intimacy and love."

As artists, we couldn't ask for a better blessing... deep relaxation and embodiment being the goal for our music, love making is the ultimate expression of both. How honored we are to be a supportive energy in helping people connect in this beautiful, essential way.

Thus was the birth of Sensual Sutras. A series of special playlists sequenced specifically for making love to.  Seriously... I had no idea Mark Zuckerberg was such a prude!

Perhaps it's the way in which big sites like this have to create broad sweeping protocols to reduce the likelihood that a 12 year old wil be turned on to 'adult' content while trying to 'Like' his favorite new band. Who knows...

I just wish we didn't live in such a world of paradox when it comes to sexual content. The stuff you'd rather not see is always staring you in the face... asking you to click here, join this, watch this, absorb yet another inappropriate image of some plasticated human being and their artificially hyped reality.

It makes it very hard for the really good stuff, that promotes safety, connection, integrity and positivity to get through.

Please Facebook, allow me to promote Music to Make Love to, or Music to Enhance Your Love Life, or however else I want to say it, because at the end of the day I'm a trustworthy source who has countless fans out there who already endorse the music we make for this very purpose. So I of course want to turn on more - pun intended.

With that being said, check out this awesome Sensual Sutras Playlist!

Paypal now supported!

As of this week, YogiTunes will now support Paypal in it's shopping cart. This is all thanks to a YogiTunes fan who wrote us recently saying that while he loved the site, he just wished we offered Paypal as a more secure way to checkout.

We love hearing from our fellow Yogi's! So we responded and now you can feel safe and secure using Paypal as a way to pay for your lovely YogiTunes yoga music.

Paypal also hosts a really nice gift certificate solution that we'll soon be implementing, that nicely complements our existing gift card option. This will allow you to create an email or printer friendly version of a redeemable gift certificate, and Paypal keeps track of how much has been spent on it. So you can gift YogiTunes music to your family and friends instantly!

For those unfamiliar with Paypal, it's a secure online form of payment that allows yogis to spend money via credit card, debit card, paypal balance or direct from a bank account. For credit and debit cards, no Paypal account is needed. You can simply purchase as a guest and enter your card info for payment. If you have a Paypal account, all you do is login to your account when prompted and Paypal will handle the rest.

There are some amazing other systems of payment out there like Dwolla founded by 28 year old entrepreneur Ben Milne. A favorite of mine right now due to the fact that it moves away from relying on credit card companies to support the transaction, therefore greatly reducing fees for folks like us!
YogiTunes is committed to making music purchasing fun, easy and exciting - so we'll be staying on top of the best practices available for our beloved community.

As online purchasing has become so popular, and yet for some a source of anxiety, we want to assure you that we take every precaution in ensuring total privacy and security within our website and particularly during our checkout procedure. Credit card information is never stored on our servers, and while that may mean having to re-enter your information each time, it ads an additional level of security.

If you have any questions about Paypal, our checkout procedure, or any other aspect of shopping at YogiTunes, please don't hesitate to contact us.


Adri Kyser @ Yogavibes!

One of the beautiful perks that come with this particular job is that I keep being introduced to amazing teachers all across the country who are doing unique things with yoga and happen to have a passion for music. How cool is that?

Adri Kyser is one such teacher, and her recent videos created for YogaVibes were an awesome opportunity for us to work together a little more closely in providing a special selection of music that she could teach to in the videos. 

She created 2 classes, Awaken to the Flow and Backbends: Open to your Highest Potential. The music in both classes is 100% YogiTunes music and available for purchase as separate playlists for each video. Click here to check out the playlists: AWAKEN & BACKBENDS 

Read below for class descriptions, and for links to check them out at!

Awaken to the Flow

Join Adri during this dynamic and energetic Prana Flow® class. You will be encouraged to let go of your inhibitions, allowing you to find the natural and innate flow of your breath and personal practice.

Adri will guide you through a series of hip openers, core work, arm balances and fluid movements that will awaken your body to the flow of Prana - Universal Consciousness. The purpose of this class is to help you let go of the thinking mind and to soften and surrender as you let your breath and the Flow of Prana guide every movement.

Awaken to the Flow is open to all levels as Adri offers several stages or kramas suitable for every practitioner. You can visit her free vignettes instructional videos here at yogavibes.

Backbending: Opening to your Highest Potential

Join Adri as she guides you through this slower pace Prana Flow® class. During this lunar flow, we will explore a series of heart opening poses opening to our highest potential. We will work on opening the chest, shoulders, and hips to release and let go of stiffness and tightness while strengthening the back side of the body to bring balance and equanimity. You will become more receptive and in tune to your internal rhythms as you shift your awareness from the outer world to your heart center.

This class is open to all levels as Adri offers a series of options and stages suitable for every yoga practitioner. You can visit her free instructional videos here at yogavibes....

Festival of Lights

Happy Hanukkah (Chanukah) to those that celebrate. Although I do not practice the Jewish faith, I honor the lineage through my blood bonds and the DNA strands that reach back to the infinite and connect me to my ancestors, some of whom were Jewish. 

I think it is important to be aware and respectful of any religious or faithful tradition that is different from the one you call your own. I find the HOLY-days to be an especially good time to honor the differences within the similarities that make us all human beings.

Thus, on this, the first day of Hanukkah, I honor the Festival of Lights. As yogis, are we not always on the quest for the light of truth, for the light within, the bright soul yearning to know the Divine? That is the connection that makes us the same while the traditions and the literature make us different, yet still beautiful.

How can we, as yogis, internalize the lessons and meaning of Hanukkah and connect them to our own practice? I think the symbol of the Menorah is a great place to begin. This ancient and sacred piece represents the light of G-d, a beacon to all nations (Isaiah 42:6) and ancient sages are known to have thought that it represented non-violence as the path to promise, never force. That sounds a lot like something we yogis believe.

What I find interesting in yoga philosophy is the symbol of the chakras, the centers of light and energy in our own bodies. This corresponds nicely to the traditional 7 branch Menorah and may make an interesting meditation as you explore the meaning of Jewish tradition and the relevancy to your own belief systems.
For your own knowledge, the Menorah for Hanukkah is special, it has 9 branches; the center candle is the light for the 8 candles of celebration. I encourage you to find stories of Hanukkah and learn more about these traditions on your own.

And please, instead of wishing your Jewish friends “Happy Holidays,” take the extra step and wish them well in their own tradition. Try to wish a Happy Hanukkah instead and know that you are also celebrating your own inner light, which is also a miracle.

Maybe you can gift someone you know with 8 days of new music. Type light into our search bar and see what comes up – maybe you can make your own special Yoga music Hanukkah playlist and share it with us!

This post is dedicated to my dear friend Nichole. She took a look at the love of her life and made a leap of faith – literally, this is her first Hanukkah as a Jewish woman and I am so proud of the hard work and love that went into this conversion.

-Written by Kirsten Hedden, who teaches at Namaste Wellness Studio in Peoria, IL

Yoga Rocks the Butte~!

Hey there yoga music fans. YogiTunes has hooked up a sweet deal - $100 off tickets for an amazing yoga and music festival in the breath taking mountain resort, Crested Butte in Colorado.

3 days of asana, good vibrations and of course powder-riffic turns for boarders and skiiers alike. Benefitting Yoga World Reach, this exciting weekend festival allows participants to engage their bodies, minds and souls through yoga classes from some of the world's most respected instructors, music, and organic food, surrounded by an inspiring mountain scenery.

We've connected with this super cool festival because some of our dear musician friends are playing there: Steve Gold, Dave Stringer, Joey Lugassy, Govindas, DJ Drez and more... so after connecting with festival producer Monica Mesa (Yoga for the Peaceful), we decied to make a Yoga Rocks the Butte playlist featuring our peeps!

There is also an amaizng line up of great teachers, including Micheline Berry, Shiva Rea, Twee Merrigan and many, many others...

It's so frickin' cool that amazingly creative, motivated yogis are putting their hearts and souls into organizing experiences for us all that bring together the outdoors, yoga, music, love, grooviness, compassion, good food, workshops... all for us to dive deeply into, enjoy, and bring back to the world so that we may fill it with our love and exuberance. HOW COOL IS THAT!




And of course, here is the Yoga Rocks the Butte playlist for a taste of what you'll be in enjoying musically:

Dave Stringer Retreats at Esalen

Mantras & Molecules: From the perspective of Eastern philosophy, the bliss we are seeking is already inside of us. From the perspective of modern brain science, this is also a true statement. To the scientist, bliss is a chemical state that the body itself produces, and it is a state that we are apparently hard-wired to seek. Chanting Sanskrit mantras is one of the world’s oldest means of finding it.

Chanting affects the areas of the brain that create our sense of where our body ends and the world begins. It also slows and steadies breathing, producing hormone and neurological changes in the body that feel simultaneously calming and thrilling. Moving from the individual level to the collective level, the effect is magnified. Through chanting, one’s sense of separation diminishes, and one’s feeling of connection increases. 

You feel somehow intimate with all the strangers surrounding you, and intensely, vividly, alive.

My "Kirtan Flight School" workshop will explore the neurochemistry of ecstasy through extensive practice of the call and response form of chanting known as kirtan. Augmenting direct experience, the workshop will also feature presentations and discussions on the emerging brain science of how music influences and alters our perceptions, mind, and spirit.

Kirtan Flight School:

“If you cannot teach me to fly, teach me to sing.” -JM Barrie, author of Peter Pan

Kirtan, an Eastern form of call-and-response mantra chanting, is experiencing a creative and popular renaissance in the West. In this consciousness-transforming practice, singers seek to vanish into the song just as raindrops merge into the ocean. Ecstasy is both the process and the product. Today, musicians and audiences all over the world are reinvigorating this ancient musical form with modern ideas and techniques. Many people are now inspired to participate in kirtan groups or to introduce chanting to yoga classes. If you're one of those people, this workshop is for you.

All participants are organized into small ensembles. Each ensemble then chooses a chant, rehearses it together, and presents a kirtan to the group. The instructors rotate through the groups, working closely with the participants to develop rhythmic and harmonic concepts, solve problems, and answer questions.

The history and philosophy of kirtan are also intensively explored, and participants learn how to present and discuss the mantras. Participants are encouraged to bring musical instruments with them, but it is understood that the most important instruments are human voices and hands. Instruction will be offered in playing the harmonium and finger cymbals, and a limited number of these instruments will be on hand for use by all.

One of the most thrilling things about kirtan is watching people light up in the discovery of their own musical selves. When you participate in a kirtan, you’re not just listening to the music. You are the music.


Friday, January 20 - Sunday, January 22
Mantras and Molecules Retreat with Dave Stringer & Dearbhla Kelly
Esalen Institute, 55000 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920

Sunday, January 22 - Friday, January 27
Kirtan Flight School with Dave Stringer, Craig Kohland and Joni Allen
Esalen Institute, 55000 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hawaii Sprit Fest

Hawaii Spirit & Healing Garden Festival brings together Yoga, Music, Hawaii and Health during a 3-day conference and community event.
Expanding Yoga and Health Awareness while supporting the local community

Over 45 Workshops Offered in Yoga, Dance, Movement and Conscious Related Topics Music Festival Featuring: Paula Fuga, Mike Love, DubKonscious, Makana, Stephen Inglis and Jon Swift Free Karma Day and Hawaii Healing Garden to Educate the Public The 2nd annual Hawaii Spirit Festival will be held from Nov 4-6, 2011 at the Turtle Bay Resort. This festival blends 3 events to offer an exciting and unique community experience to both Oahu residents and visitors.

Yoga Conference: World renowned instructors are coming together on the North Shore for one purpose: to share the knowledge and celebrate holistic awareness of yoga, music and conscious living. Over 45 workshops from 15 different instructors will be offered. Participants choose from 45 different 2-hour workshops on yoga, Hawaiian culture, and health related topics. Classes are designed cater to all levels of students, from the most basic to the most experienced, and participants are encouraged to design their schedule based on his or her personal interest and practice.

Music Festival: The Hawaii Spirit Music Festival takes place outside on Kuilima Point at Turtle Bay. One of only a few music events to take place on the North Shore, this festival brings together a powerhouse of local talent to represent Hawaii while framed with the spectacular view from the Turtle Bay lawn.

Hawaii Healing Garden and Karma Day: On Sunday November 6, the festival will feature an all day event offering Vendors, Free Yoga and Health Classes, Demonstrations and Lectures to educate the public and support our local community.

Community Outreach: Karma plays a significant part throughout the weekend. The yoga conference features a benefit panel on Friday, November 4 and a music event on Sunday November 6, both raising funding and awareness for a number of humanitarian and environmental charities. The healing garden and karma day event features a nonprofit fair increasing awareness for a number of causes while raising funding as well.

The Hawaii Spirit and Healing Garden Festival is a 3-day, conference style event celebrating holistic awareness through health, yoga, music and holistic living. This festival brings together teachers from all over the world with the intention of sharing the many facts of spiritual and conscious practices, while providing support for the local community and increasing awareness for environmental preservation. For more information, please visit

Monday, October 10, 2011

New Pepper Mary Video from Dalien 13 Hands!

The new single and video "Pepper Mary" by 13 HANDS has arrived. A modern day tale of an old Celtic hero, Pepper Mary with a very unique way of making the world a better place. Enjoy...forward, embed, kindly purchase THE LEGEND OF PEPPER MARY EP at YogiTunes, spread the word if you like the song and want to turn people onto it...

"There's no label involved with this at this time other than myself, so for now its about connecting with people.... one person at a time......and I can't begin to tell you how appreciative I am for your support.... as my contemporary music is combined with my music therapy and kirtan know you're contributing to helping others heal and improve their health through music and yoga with your support in spreading the video or purchasing the song/EP.

Thanks to everyone involved in the making and in the promotion...Gratitude mas grande! If you'd like to be part of the video promo/social media street team, then email!"

Dalien is a very gifted healer whose talents have come through a long, deep personal healing journey. An E-RYT 500 level Yoga instructor, sound therapist, PTSD/ trauma healing expert, shaman and has been an adjunct Professor of Yoga & Meditation at Montclair State University in NJ for almost a decade, Dalien has developed a unique perspective on various forms of yoga and vibrational healing approaches, shamanism, raw foods, mind-body-spirit and immune system relationships. Sparked from his inspiring healing journey of curing Crohns, Colitis, Chronic upper respiratory, allergy and chemical sensitivity issues, depression, Seliac Disease, Epstein Barr, Chronic Fatigue, head and spine trauma and other related digestive, endocrine and liver issues, Dalien has spent nearly 20 years on this quest for internal and external harmony and in doing so has enlisted the help of various teachers, holistic practitioners, Hippocrates raw/living foods institute, and other "outside the box” approaches.

Commentary by YogiTunes co-founder/CEO Alex King-Harris (aka Rara Avis)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

OM is a Magic Word

We chant OM in order to ground our energy in the present moment.

When teaching kids who are brand new to yoga, I am determined to invite them into the wondrous world of all that is yoga without pushing them into a place of spooky sounds, weird ways and stuff completely unrelated to anything they’ve ever known. This mantra is a mode of transportation from where we were in our individual lives moments ago to where we are now - together in yoga.
Since explaining the true meaning of OM may not be enough to put all kids at ease, one way to make it less ominous is to give each letter a familiar association. When chanting OM, let O represent the past. The One Outcome that Occurred each instant of your life to lead you to where you are and who you are at this exact moment in time. In other words, once something is in the past, it boils down to the One thing that was, out of all the things that could have been.

Let M represent the future. The Many experiences that have yet to unfold. The Mystery of life.

When put together, they create the magical moment of NOW.

Chant OM and the kids will feel the magic. They will know what we seekers read books about, study philosophy to understand and practice yoga and meditate to experience. That is the truth that the instant you connect to the present moment, you are plugged into the source of unlimited possibilities and power. When you harness this power you are not held back by what you have done in the past or restrained by the expectations you construct for the future. You exist in the magical moment of NOW. This is the juncture where the singular outcomes of the past meet the infinite potential of the future.

There is nothing magical about living life based on what you already know. When you ground yourself between the knowledge of the past and the openness of the future, you are free. I believe we embody freedom by fully expressing our individual authentic unique self with absolute awareness that honors the Universal source of our personal manifestation. The magic of being grounded in the moment is that we become the conducting wire through which the intelligence of the universe flows. We are supported, creative, confident, courageous, intuitive and conscious. We are open to the mystery of life because we know we can handle each moment with grace. After all, we know a magic word to invoke the power of the Universe and embody it through our own voice. Take a deep breath and join in.

-Check out my 'Sounds that Ground Kids and Teenagers' playlist:

-Written by Amy Haysman, who teaches in Alpharetta GA

Amy's website:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Just A Spark

“It only takes a spark to get a fire going?” That’s yoga. That’s yoga music too. One of my all time favorite teachers, Shiva Rea, once said that music is the “third language in the room,” whendescribing how yoga asana, pranayama, and meditation combine with the creative energy of music to create a holistic practice.

As a teacher, you bring people in from the outside world and help them decompress from the day. You use breath awareness and centering, but in a class that only lasts an hour and a half, there is limited time. The right musical language can facilitate a feeling of “timelessness” and “spacelessness” in a mere 90 minutes. Utilizing a mellow melody can bring the student to that experience just a little faster. Don’t just believe me – try it now. Click on one of YogiTunes playlists titled “Opening” and just experience it right now in your desk chair. Go ahead, I’ll wait...

What did you feel? How are you different? Did it work for you?

Music is such a powerful presence in our asana practice. I’ve had experiences where I thought “I’ll never be able to pretzel myself that way!” But then a special song comes on and all of a sudden my leg is up in the air and I’m balanced on my arms like magic. Sure body and focus got me there physically, but somehow the magic of the music gives more momentum.

Yoga is about clarifying thought and for some students, music is a tool to get there. This is especially true for beginning yogis. A yoga class can be an intimidating new experience – it’s a challenge just to get to class. For those people that are just beginning to awaken, a good playlist can shape and build confidence. We talk about holistic healing and the vibration of “Om,” sound is a powerful part of the whole. Let it resonate.

Try building your own playlist from the YogiTunes suggestions for opening, building, peaking, and closing. Give your practice a little newness and refreshed momentum through sound and let us know how it affected your practice or teaching.

-Check out my 'Overcoming Obstacles' playlist on YogiTunes!

-Written by Kirsten Hedden, who teaches at Namaste Wellness Studio in Peoria, IL

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

This Tornado Loves You

We’ve all experienced a tornado in our lives at one point or another, but I just experienced a real twister, albeit a small one. As I raced with my son in arms and my dog trailing me into the basement, the wind ripped round the trees, cracking the trunks and devastating the leaves.

Fortunately all was well and we emerged into that serene wonder of the aftermath of a storm. Neighbors picked their way through the debris and everyone came together in community. Would it be wrong to say it was somehow wonderful?

The strangest element was the energy emerging from the storm. People seemed softer, quieter, more in tune. Dare I say it – more AWAKE! Obviously, I hope it doesn’t take devastation to bring people to consciousness, but maybe sometimes it does. I had one student say that before the storm, they were in a bad mood, just sort of angry, and afterwards, they felt so much happier, like a wave of refreshing relief. They felt cleansed.

Inspired by this tornado, I invoked a message of building up the energy in my yoga class and then twisting it away and allowing everything to be released. In high winds, it is the weak branches that are lost; for the weak branches actually stifle the growth of the tree and keep it from reaching its full height and potential.

Historically, yoga has always taken inspiration from nature. This is the connection to understanding what is real and what is illusion – the test of time and nature. Taking tornado energy with you into practice will help you severe ties that are hard to break and teach you to let go of what is not needed.

Rev up your practice with a vortex of energy by booming some loud yoga music, incorporating a rigorous vinyasa practice with lots of twists, and an intention to allow everything to stir up so you can let it go.

Look for yoga music with a stormy sound that includes lots of drums and then wind down with something that reminds you of rain falling and thunder rolling in. Artists that have this sort of stormy calm sound include Dum Dum Project, Lokha, Tulku, Tuu, and Thievery Corporation. Try making your own storm sequence mix.

If you are looking for an album that has this quality throughout, try "African Dream" by Shaman's Dream.  It embodies the drumbeats and the thunder energy you need to work yourself up into a frenzy and then gently sets you back down for Savasana.

**Note**I need to give credit to this blog’s title. There is this wonderful song, “This Tornado Loves You,” by Neko Case. The lyrics are poignant and literal; a graceful yet strong reminder of this love and fear relationship our civilization has with nature.

-Check out her 'Overcoming Obstacles' playlist on YogiTunes!

-Written by Kirsten Hedden, who teaches at Namaste Wellness Studio in Peoria, IL

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Music in class – yes or no?

music2 300x213 Interview | YogiTunes Co Founder, Rara Avis, on Music, Playlists & More!Yoga Music is defined by the way in which it supports the flow and sequencing that occurs during a yoga class.  Stylistically, it can be relaxation music, meditation music, fitness music, ambient music and can also draw from a wide range of popular genres such as hip hop, chillout, soul, r&b, funk, classical music, etc.

What makes it yoga music is the way in which the songs are put together - hence YogiTunes supports the creation of the yoga music playlist.  A playlist in this context is a specific sequence of songs designed to fully support yoga poses, positions, sequences and structure so that the practitioner experiences a deep surrender into the overall flow of the class.

Malia Scott sits down with YogiTunes co-founder Rara Avis (Six Degrees recording artist and member of both Desert Dwellers & Shaman's Dream) to talk about his experiences of teaching to music.
Yoga Music in class – yes or no?
It’s a hot topic amongst yoga classes and teachers for sure.

by Malia Scott
courtesy of

Malia: In my own personal journey teaching yoga, I’ve found there is a time and a place for it. It depends on the day, the energy, the students, what you are teaching and more.
My first yoga teacher recommended not teaching with music because “it is a distraction“. Then my next teacher was all about yoga music – which was awesome.
When I first began teaching right out of teacher training it was too much – creating a playlist, then a sequence, then reading the energy of the class, sticking with a set sequence, assisting, etc. etc. The list goes on. It is time consuming creating a yoga playlist but it’s so worth the somatic journey that it can take your students on.

And now, there is a new incredible yoga music site called YogiTunes that simply rocks! It’s any yoga teachers wildest dream when it comes to creating a bad ass playlist for class. The selection is fantastic and they are just getting started. I am stoked to see where they go with this.

Malia: Rara, Can you tell the Yoganonymous readers a litle bit about and what it means for the Global Yoga Community.

Rara Avis: What it means is that there is now a dedicated online home with the best and broadest selection of music for the yogic lifestyle. One of the core areas we focus on is to provide yoga teachers with hand-picked selections of opening, building, peak, cool down and savasana songs that they can use to build great sequences for their classes. Additionally, we’re supporting artists who want to connect with the yoga community through their music, and overall turn as many people as we can on to amazing music out there that suits the yogic lifestyle of embodiment.

Our vision has and always will be to create community through the power of music and yoga. We’ve been doing this for over 15 years with our own releases, live events and in-class performances, so for us YogiTunes is an extension of that mission that allows us to reach a much broader audience. So ultimately it means more amazing community and more great music!

Malia: As a leading yoga producer, what are your TOP 10 tips on How to Teach to Music.

Rara Avis: When I teach with music my first goal is to support a shift in perspective… “we are music”. Our bodies are built to resonate sound from within – which is a deeply transformative experience. By helping people get in touch with the mechanisms that support resonation within the body, a felt sense occurs that allows us to become the music, vs. feeling separate from it. This can be a lifelong experience but can also be understood in a moment with a simple shift of how we see and feel our bodies. It’s a beautiful gift that one of my guitar teachers gave me in music school… after 3 years of relentlessly practicing guitar scales he said to me one day, “Alex, you realize you’re not playing your guitar right? You are the instrument… the guitar is just a tool for expressing that.“

Rhythm is key…
Pulse is something we feel long before we’re capable of higher cognitive functions during fetal development, thus rhythm brings us back to our deepest roots. The periodic occurrence of repeating cycles is something we witness time and again in all aspects of life. By affirming our connection with rhythm using simple tapping, clapping, breathing and feeling exercises, we in turn affirm our connection with ourselves and with what surrounds us. Again, the goal is to feel more connected, and less separate by tuning into the power of rhythm.

Having a good sense of pitch has everything to do with being an attentive listener. In music school we took ‘ear training’ classes, which was basically learning how to listen to ourselves and others at a much more refined level. By doing so, the ear is capable of informing the muscles responsible for the minute adjustments necessary to attain a nice sounding voice. Dropping into a deep space of listening is key for musicians… it’s a constant meditation.

Most people have a natural fear that their voice, be it through singing, playing an instrument, dancing, etc. will be perceived as less than attractive by others. By giving people permission to be in a learning phase, and demonstrating vulnerability as a professional, my goal is to make people feel at ease with where they’re at as opposed to a sense of anxiety that comes from wishing they were better than they might be. It’s the same on the mat… compare yourself to others and anxiety can occur. Surrender to your current state of being and energy can truly begin to move and help take you where you want to go.

The most important lesson I was taught at music school was that it was mandatory to take freely from the masters who had come before. It’s not stealing – it’s more like honoring what’s already occurred and accepting that you will do it differently. Learn your favorite music by heart – play it until you know it inside and out. It will benefit you greatly to have the songs, rhythms, harmonies, melodies and ideas of your favorite musicians at your fingertips. Nothing is new, and everything has already been played, so true innovation comes from learning the rules and knowing when to improvise.

Improvising vs. Theory…
You can’t find freedom without limitation and restraint. Pure improvisation and pure theoretical playing both create stagnancy. When you learn theory and understand how to improvise, you have unlimited choices. When you’re stuck with one or the other, you become predictable and monotonous. Improvisation inspires passion, theory creates consistency and forward motion. Use both when creating music and you’ll be excited with the results.

Harmonic Overtone Series…
I always teach people about overtones. They are the building blocks of all musical elements… they also dictate the patters we find in architecture, natural structures, physics, art, and other areas of life. It’s a pattern of whole number relationships that are found in all naturally occurring sound waves. The pattern repeats itself into infinity, 1/1, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, etc. – and is responsible for everything we do in music. They’ve been there since the beginning of time – and are the closest thing to God/Goddess I have ever directly experienced in life. They’re a key map to learn to further one’s understanding of rhythm, melody and harmony. The philosophical lessons we can garner from them are quite profound.

Song writing…
Don’t let the concept of a perfect song stop you from completing the song writing process. Blocks can be hard to shift if you’re waiting for perfection… my experience has been to complete the song writing process and move forward. Learn from my ‘mis-takes’ and incorporate those into my next song writing experience. Repetition is the mother of perfection… so I always encourage people to finish and then start again, vs. keeping something unfinished forever.

Find musicians at your level or ideally a bit better than you – and make music with them. Exploring how to communicate ideas, work on creating together, and hashing out concepts until they find their natural state of resonance and balance with other people is a great exercise.

Most everyone has performance anxiety. Perform in front of people you know and trust who will love you no matter what at first. Then slowly build up to playing in front of total strangers. Feedback from other people is invaluable. Take it in, but don’t judge it as good or bad, as it’s just their opinion. If someone doesn’t like what you’re doing try to understand why… you can’t please everyone, but negative feedback can be just as helpful as positive stuff when it comes down to refining your art.

Always remember to enjoy yourself, especially when it’s hard and stressful. Music is a gift from the angels… just to have the privelige of making it is something work celebrating constantly!

ipod playlist Interview | YogiTunes Co Founder, Rara Avis, on Music, Playlists & More!

Malia: What do you consider an epic yoga playlist?

Rara Avis: The most epic yoga playlist is capable of responding in-class to what’s happening in the moment, while providing a consistent, safe, reliable container for people to drop deep into their practice with. This can be done with a carefully sequenced series of songs based on an understanding of what provides non-distracting support that drops yogis deeper into communion with themselves and the surrounding environment. The gauge for this is wether or not as a listener you’re having the same experience. If you’re finding yourself distracted then chances are the music isn’t doing it for you either. At YogiTunes we aim to give teachers awesome choices that we’ve found over the years do this consistently. We draw from a wide variety of musical styles, but always listen for distracting elements vs. ones that bring upon a natural state of trance.

headphone meditation 290x290 Interview | YogiTunes Co Founder, Rara Avis, on Music, Playlists & More!

Malia: What are some tips for teachers that are newer to creating playlists for yoga classes?

Rara Avis: Sequence the songs using our recommendation playlists and then practice to it yourself at home. DJ Saraswati is a virtual DJ we’ve created to harness the collective recommendation experience of myself and my two co-founders Craig Kohland and Amani Friend. We’re not saying these are the only choices, but as a new playlist creator you can draw on over 40 collective years of experience DJ-ing, producing, composing and performing music for yoga – often live in-class and for yoga instructional videos.

We wanted to give teachers all that experience which is why we created DJ Saraswati as our offering to teachers looking to find great songs for specific segments of their classes.

You can also look at other teachers you may know and like – see what they’re playing and where in the sequence of songs they put it. Most yoga classes follow an opening, building peak, cool down, relaxation type flow. Sometimes classes will peak twice… but the elements used to create those peaks and cool downs remain consistent. It just depends on what style of songs you like to create the vibe of your classes, so don’t be afraid to express yourself by picking some outrageous peak songs,
or heart felt relaxation songs!

I usually have my songs available during practice so that I can play with the order until it feels right. Very soon we’ll be rolling out a new tool for teachers that allows you to do this from an online streaming portal! (more to be announced about in coming months)

Malia: Thanks Rara for taking the time to educating everyone here at Yoganonymous about and sharing these essential tips for creating yoga playlists. Many blessings to you on this exciting new journey!

Whether you are a yoga teacher, a student or an artist, I encourage you to check out
It’s pretty rad to say the least. Let the yoga music revolution begin!


Original Article from:

Interview of YogiTunes co-founder/CEO Alex King-Harris (aka Rara Avis) by Yoganonymous writer Malia Scott