Music and Svadhyaya (Introspection)

9:15 pm

I’m listening to a selection from Ed Sheeran’s first album and visualizing my lesson plan; inhaling and lifting on this note, flowing into this pose at this section, pausing here, moving when this hits… Of course, I’ve already physically practiced it, but I get a deeper feel for the flow when I practice it in my head as well.

As I’m starting to Zen-out, I’m reminded of a couple of feedback from my former students after a class. One said, in verbatim,

“I love your class but I hate the music!”. The other one was pretty much the same.

I started my teaching practice with the intention that I will be who I am. Teach what I want, what I believe in and what I love.

These comments though; they tested me.

I use music that helps elicit the feeling and Intention I offer for any class. Yes, sometimes that would be Kirtan or yoga music.

But more often, it’s anything from classical {Canon in D, Lakme- Viens Mallika (Flower Duet) and Orchestral Suite No.3- Air} to world {like Enya and Putumayo} to pop {as exampled by Mr. Sheeran} to movie soundtracks {come and try doing yoga to Pacific Rim!}.

Music and Svadhyaya (Introspection)

After receiving the not-so-glowing feedback, I changed it up and put on more yoga music. It didn’t last. My head was distracted, my groove was off and I didn’t feel authentic to myself. And this, my friends, is anathema to yoga. But before I got to this conclusion, I had a long hard look at the choices before me: change my music selection and therefore changing who I am and what I offer in my teaching to suit what only a couple of people thought was “real” yoga, or, well…not. Changing would bundle me into the popular concept of yoga and what, maybe, a greater number of people want.

But that “maybe” isn’t a guarantee that my class numbers would increase. Incidentally, it didn’t. Sticking to my guns though, while being more of who I am would mean a potential drop in numbers because my music selection isn’t “real yoga”. I’d be the odd one out and I’d be lying if I said that thought didn’t scare me at first. But I decided to trust and be honest and be brave.

I went back to my “Feel” by Robbie Williams and “Frozen” {…no, not the Disney one! Madonna!}. And you know what, my numbers held. Held with my regulars and increased with newcomers, who are, as I’m publishing this, now regulars as well. People still come up to me saying they love my classes…and either don’t comment on the music {which is in itself a good thing} or say they’ve never done yoga to my selection of music and they loved it! Well, what do you know!?

I know that “trusting in the universe” and “putting your energy out there” can sound airy-fairy, so I’ll put it this way:

Be true to yourself. Don’t compromise your authenticity. Your inner world, your mind and heart and spirit, will come to that place of peace because of this awareness of who you are. The outer, waking world is already full of chaos, but if your inner world is peaceful, no amount of doubt and challenge can break in. If they do, then go back to your practice of Svadyaya or introspection. Take these challenges as an opportunity to revisit the questions Who am I? What is my purpose? How can I grow from this? Svadyaya / Introspection. It’s a good thing.

P.S. I’ve finished this article in record time! All in under one hour and still listening to good ‘ol Ed. Inspiration and introspection. Music and movement. What goes better together?

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Respect Intellectual Property Rights.  All rights reserved Aileen David | Mad Yogi 2021

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