Given the latest yoga’s gonna hurt you piece in the New York Times, we’ve — and I mean you all and us — been a bit focused on the physical side of yoga. Asanas. The toned body. Maybe the ability to sit still for long enough to meditate and find a still mind. But as a few commenters have noted (and we’ve hopefully reiterated regularly), yoga isn’t just about asanas. You know, “complex yoga stretches.”
Still, I figure we all could use a little reminder of this. So it is timely as can be that our friend Naren Schreiner at Sangita Yoga has just returned from a visit to Mexico that emphasizes the juicy quality of kirtan and Bhakti Yoga. (I think I need to beat everyone to the punch and figure out what the dangers are of practicing Bhakti Yoga. I’ll let you know when my piece is set to appear in the Times.)
Quick reminder; Naren performed at the last Confluence and is on the schedule again for 2014. He gets the simple and profound power of unity. He probably wouldn’t like my putting it that way.
From his piece:
My desire to visit Mexico was rekindled in my twenties when I saw a film of my Satguru, Paramahansa Yogananda, visiting Mexico in 1929. He wrote that the land and culture reminded him much of his beloved India. In the photos of that trip and in the film footage, it seemed as though Yoganandaji was able to be with the Mexican people as if he were among his own.
In October of 2013, my time to visit this ancient land finally arrived. Sangita Yoga was invited to provide sacred music at a new spiritual retreat center outside of Queretaro, a beautiful city north of Mexico City.
Pablo had told me that Queretaro was important in the fight for the Independence of Mexico, and so Lopa and I decided to talk about the importance of sacred kirtan and bhajan in India’s Freedom Movement and present “Raghupati Raghava” and “Vande Mataram”. Clara, to my surprise, asked me right on the spot to lead a kirtan. Hesitantly, I taught them the words, “He Govinda, He Gopala” and sang a simple melody based on Raga Yaman. We were delighted to see the enthusiastic response—everyone sang and clapped along with joy. Janzel and I answered some questions from the audience and we offered a few more bhajans before closing.
The reception from nearly a hundred Queretanos was humbling. Many came afterwards to greet us and welcome us to their city, others wanted photos with us. Some asked more questions about the tabla, the harmonium, or the tanpura. Women asked Lopa about her sari and the works of Tagore. One gentleman in his sixties came to us and said, “Thank you for singing the chants in the holy language of Sanskrit. This sacred language has blessed my city. The entire planet Earth needs the holy vibrations of Sanskrit.” And then he politely left. Clara did not know who he was—we never found out how he came to know of us.
As far as I can tell, no hips were injured during the trip.
Posted by Steve