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