Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Yoga & Music

by Jano Galindo
Having the right music in your yoga class is essential to the overall experience. As a practitioner, you may not be aware of how much consideration your instructor has put into their musical selections. When all the elements come together there should be a blend of great instruction and music that enhances the transformations that occur in your practice.

The Music in your practice is best related to the breath. Your breathing should have a pattern and a rhythm. This is the best way to keep the thoughts in your mind occupied on the breath. Your job would be to keep these patterns and rhythms consistent throughout your practice. Music is an unseen, intangible element. It draws its force from the atmosphere and is translated in notes, harmonies, vibrations and rhythms. When composed with the intention of healing, it has the properties to touch the highest aspects of the self. It is a sub-conscious direct connection to the soul or atman and it is here where there's healing power. It's here where you have mental, emotional, physical and spiritual transformation. These experiences take place only in the present moment. The beauty of music is that it's designed to immerse you completely in the present and no where else.

When instructing a yoga class my first intention is to create a sequence that challenges you and takes you to a place within yourself that allows change and shift. 

The music selections that I use in my classes have been fine tuned to enhance these shifts and changes. It is moving, inspiring, elemental, atmospheric, rhythmic and full of love. Just like the sequence of postures, the music has a beginning that creates an atmosphere. The song selections create more of a soundscape with natural sounds and less rhythm. This allows you to begin the journey within. All the students that come into the practice are coming from so many different places. The beginning selection of music and postures is designed to bring everyone together, set a personal intention and create a group energy.

As the pace of the class goes from the introduction into moving the body to generate heat and prepare for the flow of the practice, the music has to accommodate these changes. There is percussive rhythms introduced, the tempo is still moderate allowing for a build and there is more context to the melodies and harmonies. I tend to keep to the idea of textural soundscapes and interlude type of instrumentals here. The ultimate focus is to keep the students in a inward exploration.

The intention of the instructor is revealed towards the building and peak of the class, it is essential that the selections do not distract or take anything away from the ultimate goal of union between the breath, body and mind. This is where I find it the most challenging in having the appropriate selections. This is when the instructor has more liberty in song selection, and it can either make or break the class. As in most things in life, less is more. Your tempos can build but you should consider avoiding house or techno type tempos. I tend to keep my choice of songs more in the lounge or chill categories, where you can find steady tempo beats that don't rush but still allow for a great push. If your class has a peak, there should be a peak song as well. This does not imply a peak tempo, but a song that goes with whichever intention there is for the class. For example if I am teaching a balancing sequence as a peak, I don't want to have song selections that may be distracting, but steady and consistent with little to no vocals.

In closing your practice with cool down postures, the idea would be to allow for the attention to re-focus towards the inside. The final postures and songs should be set with the intention of achieving the ultimate experience in savasana. If you think of all your posture and song selections as a preparation for savasana, your experience with putting together a playlist will have a clearer intention and serve a greater purpose. The final song for savasana is the most crucial. In the end you have to trust that your song selections are not going to betray you but enhance and allow for a deeper experience in the asana. 

I have about 10 or so songs that I have come trust, check some of them out here:

Savasana Playlist 
Om Prana by Rara Avis
Featured on the album Beneath the Radar 

Sol. by Ishq.
Featured on the album Orchid

Shiva's Flute by Shaman's Dream
Featured on the Yang mix Bom Shiva 

Claire de Lune by The Philadelphia Orchestra

To Build a Home by The Cinematic Orchestra

Vishranti by Dave Eggar Quartet 

Awakening by Benjy Wertheimer and Michael Mandrell
Featured on the album Anjali 

Lotus Heart by Desert Dwellers
Featured on the album DownTemple Dub: Waves  

Cave Dwellings by Liquid Bloom
Featured on the Yang mix Prabuddhah Beat

Shanti (Peace Out) by MC Yogi
Featured on the album Elephant Power 

Learn more about Jano Galindo, including his teaching schedule, at janogalindo.com/

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Into the Power of Music: An Interview with Deva Premal & Miten

As a part of our ongoing interview series, Yogi Tunes founder Alex King-Harris recently spoke with Deva Premal and Miten. Our goal for this interview was to broaden and contribute the conversation surrounding music as a healing force in the world. Deva and Miten both have a particularly potent and important insight into the power of music.

Does music contribute your overall health and well being? If so, how?

Deva Premal & Miten: Music in itself is an expression of the 'soundless sound' - meaning, beauty which cannot be expressed in words - but can be heard. Music originally arose as a spiritual experience and as such, contains its own integral healing power.

Music moves all emotionally - whatever style it is played in. We all recognize the different responses to that of a baby's laughter, compared to that of a police siren, say.... so, we agree, all sound has power.

In our case, we use music to enhance the sanskrit texts, known as mantra. Mantras are scientifically formulated sound healing formulas - discovered by the wise ones of ancient india, some 5000 years ago. Refined sound bites, basically.

It's no wonder then, that fusing music with these powerful codes creates a strong response, or reaction. The mantras, fused with the music we play, create a sense of well-being...open-ness...not only in the one who chants, but also, in the ones who hear.

Can you remember a time you experienced a profound moment of healing through music?

Deva Premal & Miten: We experience intense and profound healing every time we sing. If we didn't, why would we bother?

The music deva and i create has practically zero entertainment quality - it is not emotional, it's not going to get us in the charts-it doesn't claim to mend broken hearts or revenge love betrayed. It doesn't protest inequalities and political issues...

This music was created in an ashram. It's another dimension... People don't live in ashrams to get famous or concern themselves with inter-personal relationships, or even matters of the world - at least initially. We weren't in an ashram to plot a career...so the music never had any of that essence in it.

When our spiritual teacher, osho, died, we eventually left india and began sharing something of the way he'd taught us to play music, and what we'd experienced, personally, from playing this kind of music - which we did, with other fellow travellers on the path. Eventually the autobahns had to widen to accommodate more and more of those fellow travelers - there are so many of us now, all looking for our life's purpose - looking to make some kind of sense of this life we're living in the 21st century.

Mantras have a potential. We've heard from people who experienced a shift in consciousness when hearing the music, without even knowing what the mantra was actually saying...so, there's a power, inherent in the sounds. No translation needed. Just to be open to their power seems to be enough.

What qualities do you feel need to be present in music for it to inspire wellness in the listener?

Deva Premal & Miten: Music needs to contain the quality of pure intention. It needs to be free of any sense of ambition. It needs to have the quality of being nothing more than an offering to spirit - a gift that gives and asks for nothing in return.

If that quality is there - if the musician approaches the mantras from this space, he/she will have an experience of well being, themselves - and that's really the point. If the musician is playing from the place of humility and inner intent, then the music will be received by the listener, and it will transmit the healing power of the mantras.

Was there anyone, anything or any experiences in particular you've had that impact how you choose to express yourself musically?
Deva Premal & Miten: Not really...we're not really kirtan singers, but we love kd and jai and snatam especially. We keep our ears open, but we don't consider ourselves proficient enough as musicians to attempt to actually emulate anybody...!

We can tell you that we love the voices of Bombay Jayashree, Bobby McFerrin, the late Jagjit Singh, Bob Marley, and Blind Willy Johnson. The music covers a wide horizon ... we like that, it keeps things open and healthy and without borders, you can experiment unselfconsciously. Which is basically what we do when we record. 'A deeper light' is an experiment. 'Password' was an experiment. 'The essence' certainly was.

Through early November - 2013, Deva & Miten with bansuri maestro Manose and keyboard wizard Maneesh de Moor are on tour in the USA and Canada. Tour details and tickets are available at BrightStar Live Events.

More about Deva Premal & Miten
Deva Premal & Miten began their journey into love and music in 1990 when they met at the ashram of controversial Indian mystic, Osho. Their worldwide concerts and best-selling albums have since introduced millions of Westerners to the joy and deep relaxation found in spiritually based songs and chanting mantras from the Eastern meditation traditions.

Deva & Miten have released a string of acclaimed CDs with sales exceeding one million, and their concerts have moved from yoga studios to audiences of thousands in concert halls, cathedrals and music festivals around the planet.