I know I’m pushing the proper boundaries of Ashtanga here, but after thinking earlier about MC Yogi’s presence at the Confluence, having this story pop upon on my radar seemed somehow fated.
It’s from the Times of India: “When music and yoga combine to heal.”
In a traditional Mysore room, of course, there’s no music — maybe just some background chants or mantras. (That’s how it is at our shala in LA.) But typically those rules get stretched if a shala also offers flow-type classes, and I’m sure we’ve all taken at least our share of those, at least at some yoga — as opposed to Ashtanga — studio.
I know there’s a whole debate or discussion about how yoga teachers pick their class “play lists.” And I really don’t want to go there.
Because this article doesn’t go there. It goes here:
The spiritual nuances of Indian classical music traditions, developed over centuries, are particularly suited for music therapy, he said, but added that a lot of research and developmental work needed to be done.
Interestingly, while the modern world may be just waking up to the therapy, ancient Indian scriptures have a well-documented technique called ‘nada yoga’ — or the science of utilising sound vibrations and yogic asanas (postures) to achieve ‘salvation’.
According to Sharma, nada yoga has enormous power to heal. It is believed that Indian classical music has very positive effects on human health and behaviour.
“Recent studies on the subject showed that music along with yoga can heal disorders like hypertension, arthritis, problems related to upper or lower parts of the body, mental stress and tension,” she said.
In other words, with all due deference to MC Yogi, we aren’t talking hip hop here. Nor Tool. Nor Bob Marley, Michael Franti or Jack Johnson.
We aren’t even talking Krishna Das or Jai Uttal. Or any of the sources that drive bhakti yoga (and Bhakti Fest).
I don’t think I’ve ever had an asana class that incorporated this kind of music; maybe there was an odd Ravi Shankar song mixed in, but certainly nothing drawing along a “nada yoga” tradition.
It sounds interesting, at least. But I doubt whether it ever could fit into an Ashtanga practice, which is so focused on dristis and pratyahara and, thus, not hearing or noticing the outside world. (I usually stop noticing the background mantras that are playing at the shala, for instance, at least on the more successful days.)
Given the Confluence’s emphasis on “Ashtanga in America,” perhaps it is a topic that will come up during one of the days’ talks. After all, yoga and music now are pretty wedded together in most studios. And not having music is one of the most noticeable difference between Ashtanga and the flow class down the street. I’m sure it is an issue these five teachers have faces and thought about — I believe I’ve even heard David Swenson say it was OK, as part of a home practice, for instance. I think his point was it gets you to practice, that’s better than not practicing.
Anyone secretly play music when you practice at home? Does it affect your practice in any noticeable ways? And have you ever put on classical Indian music before that first Surya Namaskara?