For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been attracted to the sound of music. I’m sure you have too. Children react to music and sound in general.
I grew up listening to my dad’s jazz collection, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington,… and to my older brother’s Lou Reed and David Bowie records. Then there was the occasional aria of the powerful tenor Joseph Schmidt to bring balance in the mix. Not sure how he ended up in this eclectic collection, but he surely made the scope of sounds I came in touch with at an early age more complete. Somehow all this resulted in my becoming a professional musician at age 21.
On a more subtle sonic level, my father – an amateur ornithologist – used to take me on long walks to observe birds, and to learn to recognise their features, study their habits, and more specifically, recognise and appreciate their beautiful singing.
Still today, I absolutely LOVE listening to birds. I need to hear them on a regular basis to feel happy and balanced.
I make it a daily habit to go for a mindful walk in the woods near my home. To immerge myself in freshly filtered air (thank you trees!), beautiful green surroundings (thank you Mother Earth!), and shower myself with the heavenly sounds of bird songs… In my opinion, birds are the greatest sound healers on the planet.
I feel very fortunate. All this early exposure to music and the singing of birds has sharpened my listening skills, taught me to take delight in detail, subtle differences. Later on this has helped me tremendously as a professional musician, and yes, also as a yoga teacher and student.
Prana is the vital energy which is so needed to sustain all life form. Pranayama, means control of this energy, and this is done through control of the breath. This is why Pranayama is at the heart of Hatha Yoga. We also see it as the 4th limb of Raja Yoga (Patanjali).
When the body is comfortable and relaxed, and one is not forcing the voice to sing, one can feel the subtle vibrations throughout one’s body. Did you know that when you put your teeth on top of each other while humming ‘Om’, your entire skeleton vibrates ? can you see how this practice can ‘tune” our bodies to keep them healthy?
Mantra means, “that which protects the mind”. It is Divine energy encased in a structure of sound. Repeating a mantra (Japa) or kirtan it, keeps the mind focussed on this positive energy, so it comes in harmony with it.
After a kirtan session of, let’s say, 30 minutes or more, the mind becomes steady, calm and focussed. Every cell of your body is resonating with positive energy. It is easier then to make the right decisions that are in harmony with this energy.
I suppose this is what we would call a Sattvic state in yoga. In individuals, Sattva, one of the 3 gunas, is expressed as kindness, serenity, knowledge, wisdom, control over the mind and the senses. The fruit of Sattva is pure joy.
I love how kirtan makes me feel…
If you would like to know more about this beautiful practice have a look to our last post of Eknath Vanslembrouck
How about getting together and experience this wonderful form of yoga practice?
I’ll be guest teaching at a few LuciaYoga.Com retreats in 2016.
I’m very much looking forward to practicing with you ! Om Shantih.