Music, songs, and chanting are all powerful tonics to add to your yoga or meditation practice. Seventeen years into yoga and swapping musical faves with yogis and repeatedly approaching fellow teachers I have built my list of go-tos for those times a bit of music is a must for practice enhancement.
As an aside, if you can get yourself to a sound healing or a yoga class with live music and sound healing, hello amazing body bliss! I’m thrilled to see so many options to integrate modalities that take into account the full sensory experience of our bodies, and it’s another one to add to my bucket list of “more stuff I would like to learn”.
You bliss’n like me bub?
For the pregnant mammas, music is a lovely thing to incorporate into your practice whilst bub is womb-side as well as consider in preparation for birthing day. As music is such a personal thing, I highly recommend you spend some time browsing through iTunes or Spotify to find that musical sweet spot. Take some time leading up to the big day to listen and feel the tunes that really resonate for you and your bub. Goose-bump ripples of calm and soothing, a warm glowing feeling of heart happiness, as well as little kicks from the womb-dweller were usually the box tickers.
What I have found remarkable is how students and friends have always enquired about the same few artists and songs over the years. Below, are a few to get you started on your own little adventure down the rabbit hole. Oh, and word to the wise, if you’re off to the hospital to deliver the wee one, don’t forget the tunes at home. 😉
Super Magical Mamma Tunes – Craig Pruess & Ananda, 108 Sacred Names of Mother Divine
I fell in love with this at a little studio and was lucky enough to get my own copy. These tunes are blissful transportation regardless of your Sanskrit knowledge. Perfect for restorative, meditation and savasana.
Angel voice – Essential Snatam Kaur, Sacred Chants for Healing
I rocked and chanted with my girl in my womb to Ong Namo during meditation sessions prior to her debut. It was truly marvellous to see her little head turn once I played it after she was earthside. We still cuddle on to these when she’s not busy taking over the world or the lounge room. Many of these tunes were on my birthing day playlist.
If you just want a relaxed vibe, without the vocals, try Deuter
Sometimes this sounds a bit “spa-ish” to me but I find Deuter is pretty neutral to have on if I am feeling a bit overstimulated and need simple, soothing sounds. I have a few of his albums. Reiki Sound Healing is my fave. Nada Himalaya rocks during meditation sessions.
Sacred Earth = Australian Magic
Hmmm so blissful. A bit of mantra, gorgeous instruments. Feel the love. After all these years I still find Breathing Space, on the Call to the Divine album to be an amazing
Ambient, other-worldly chill’n try Divination by Akasha
I usually only listen to the first selection of songs that are more relaxing. Descent is a perfect 14:55 long. Just right for a nice meditation or savasana session when that’s all you have time for. The second suite of tunes is a bit robot doof-doof, but hey, perhaps you could use it for your next big rave after baby arrives.
(part one of a four-part series on expansion)
We naturally focus from our body’s frontal, or anterior, plane. The bulk of how we exist, engage, sense and interact naturally and logically occurs from this perspective. Nifty things like eyes, mouths, faces and limb orientation might have something to do with it.
With today’s lifestyle it’s no wonder our bodies and minds can get a bit cramped. Us corporate types can sit desk-bound for hours on a deadline whilst tradies like my husband spend the day bent over in weird positions troubleshooting and fixing. As a mum, life feels like its in a perpetual forward bending motion. Add to that time spent commuting, hunched over devices and books plus all the leaning in for the good stuff like a cup of tea with a friend, hugs, cuddles and very important toddler conversations and the front body works overtime.
As yoga practitioners our first impulse is often to counter the forward hunching with back-bending. But what if we started this lengthening and un-scrunching with a more subtle approach? Months of parenting and lugging her highness around have been the perfect yoga lab to test out some different techniques, and I believe our side bodies hold the key to the natural expansion we desire. Come join me Tuesday as we test this hypothesis out together.
We’ll build the foundation on expansion with deliciously simple side bends and rhythmic lateral motion incorporated into basic postures. We’ll also play with modifications and twists that strengthen the connection to our entire periphery. Your body will sing thanks to small tweaks that are easy to incorporate into your home practice.
Once we slip into relaxation and meditation you’ll be attuned to those natural waves emanating, giving a pleasant soft focus point for our closing meditation on the crown. When you walk out of class, my hope is that you feel a natural lengthening and expansion radiating from your beautiful being.
For those of you tuned into the blog, I’ll share a few tips with you later in the week.
Over the next four weeks we’ll look how we can use yoga to bring greater space and openness to our bodies. Please join us tonight at Sevenergy, 7pm for this small suite of classes on expansion, I’d love to see you on the mat.
Yoga on, lovelies. x
The “schedule,” as I loosely call it these days, was more akimbo than usual last week thanks to hubby’s and my work commitments. By the time Saturday arrived I was in a mildly catatonic state. Though I accept the occasional flux, the hectic pace served as a reminder that guarding my time and interests within reason isn’t an option. Though another demanding week awaits, I’m going to be more vigilant about boundaries that free me up for running, yoga practice, meditation and creative time. Without my beloved outlets, I become sub-par at everything else.
Given the nature of this beast we call modern life, how can you restore and resettle when obligations rev to full throttle? We all run into encounters where a simple, “All righty folks, this is fun but I really need to slip away for a little me time” won’t fly.
What can we do when demands press and life starts to feel a little more whirly, stormy and unstable than desired? I reckon it has something to do with reconnecting to the centre, and there are surprisingly simple ways to do this.
So where is the, or more appropriately, your centre? It’s where your unique energy emanates from. When you reside in this place, it enables you to maintain stability and ride the waves of whatever life throws your way. Whether it be demanding work schedules, the big important race or presentation, the pivotal game, a tense conversation that needs to happen, snatching the toddler from dangerous heights on a distressingly regular basis or a glorious melange of all the above, residing fully in your centre fortifies you to absorb, ride, decide and live from an authentic and powerful position.
In Tuesday’s class at Sevenergy, we’ll explore reacquainting with your centre through a series of asanas that help you discover, challenge and restore. We’ll finish off with a meditation I devised that will recharge your body and spirit so you can handle life’s turbulent times, empowering you to confidently circle into the eye of any storm.
For the beautiful blog readers, what are your thoughts on this idea of the centre? Where is it for you? How does life feel when you firmly plug into that place, and what can you do to reconnect when there’s a short circuit?
Well gorgeous people, I hope to see some of you on the mat this Tuesday in South Freo, and don’t forget about the winter special, where you can yoga your way to a private session with me. Keep yoga-ing on and stay healthy! ~Ange
Maybe you think that as a yoga teacher I am a hard-core meditator who sits down in her sacred corner every day and floats off to the magical land of “peacin’ out”. The truth is, I’m not. Even though I know of and can espouse the benefits of a meditation practice, as a working mom establishing a yoga teaching business, there are more days than I’d like to admit that I don’t have a proper sit down session.
Though I love the few times per week when I get anywhere between two to thirty minutes meditation, adding another “to do” on a very long list all ready doesn’t feel right. Instead, I’m happy to squeeze little meditative moments in whatever way I can.
So try this the next time things are starting to feel like a bit too much. You know, the moment when life presses up to you more than you’d like. Typically it’s an unpleasant, harried, unstable and uncomfortable moment but it can also be a really exciting one. A little tiff with a spouse, your toddler’s cup of milk spilt on a freshly prepared breakfast that has to be made again but you need to get out the door soon so you can get onto that conference call, or you’re stuck in gridlock.
You can also feel the squeeze during the highs. Maybe you’ve got an abundance of ideas, priorities or projects and you’re not sure where to focus or how to start, or perhaps you’re finally accepting that big award, making that big presentation as an industry leader, or marrying your best friend in just a few minutes. Get the picture?
Take a deep, long inhalation. Feel the breath filling up the entirety of your lungs, rib cage, belly and upper shoulders expanding, being mindful to create space between your chest and chin. You may wish to close your eyes(please don’t do this is you’re stuck in gridlock!). Perhaps with the deep long inhalation you notice a lightening, as in a floating, sensation coming to your body.
Allow your spine to lengthen as the breath fills the entirety of your chest cavity right down to your expanding belly with the inhalation; perhaps you can feel space increasing between the vertebrae. This spaciousness grows though your entire body, you may even feel the breath reach through your limbs and to tips of fingers and toes, possibly radiating out of the crown of your head.
Pause, gently holding the breath for as long as comfortably uncomfortable, you don’t want to go blue in the face, instead allow a natural urge to let go build. Maybe it’s a fraction of a second, or quite a bit longer.
Exhale, and, if you feel inclined, let out an audible sigh. Focus on the body’s sensation, the deflating back towards the centre, possibly noticing the downward pull of gravity, the grounding.
Open your eyes, and shift your focus. See anything different?
Welcome to your one-breath meditation, you undercover buddhist monk you! Repeat throughout the day at opportune moments. With time, you may give in to an urge to have a few of these breaths together.
I’d love to hear how this went, and if you noticed any changes. When was it most helpful? Did it bring anything up or settle anything down? Perhaps you do this on a regular basis; anything to share with our little community?
And of course it would be cool bananas if you could kindly share this post with anyone you think could use a big deep breath right about now.
Heard of The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman? If you’ve not yet read it, do. It struck a nerve as I recalled recent conversations; some snippets:
“I just tell myself I shouldn’t be thinking that and then I force myself to be positive.”
Or: “I tell my mind to stop, and start thinking something nicer.”
How about: “I feel so bad for even thinking negative things!”
You get the idea. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m sure I’ve said all of the above myself. What is this pervasive insistence on unicorns and lollipops all of the time? Burkeman will open your mind and let you lose the guilt over negative thinking.
It’s getting easier to feel bad for not having a glossy, swishy, joyful life every waking moment. Between facebook, photoshop and miracles in sound engineering there’s little room for imperfection. We should be happy. All. of. the. time. Thinking bad thoughts means we’re flawed, if we’re less than joyous it must mean our lives, and more importantly our selves, aren’t good enough. We have to think more better more of the time.
Burkeman explores how we’ve become trapped by this insatiable desire to have life be more perfect. He believes the dark side of our thought processes have become an unfair source of distress for many. He explores a few of my personal favourites, talking about mindfulness meditation(which we’ll be exploring in my Tuesday night sessions), has an interesting encounter with Eckhart Tolle on my old stomping grounds, and gets to the crux of fear in devoting a chapter to death, something I think we should all ponder more seriously.
Burkeman, himself an advocate of “negative thinking,” had me smiling with relief and agreement. In essence, this book is an ode to surrendering and accepting life equally in its lows and highs.
If you’ve read some previous posts you’ll know I’m not full-tilt positivity all the time. I’m comfortable admitting what any given situation is stirring up in me. I’ve always believed life has its ups and downs, and you learn more, grow more, and get smarter once you’re through the rough patches. I think the more we can be authentic individuals the sooner the world will be on its way to actual positive change. Ironic huh?
So how can we take this need to be daisies and gumdrops all the time and apply it to yoga? Are you thinking one hundred percent good thoughts in yoga class? Doubtful really, as yoga practice usually take us to uncomfortable places. Isn’t it so wonderful we have a tool that enables us to encounter our negative thought patterns on a regular basis without necessarily attaching it to anything in particular?!
The next time you’re in a place you’d like to wiggle away from, mentally, emotionally or physically, just leave it. Try not to “do” anything about it. Don’t waste energy trying to undo a thought, or regret that you were annoyed that the instructor had you in a posture longer than you’d prefer, or that this explanation is so silly and you don’t need to hear it, or that a wonky breathing technique makes your nose feel funny; accept every moment of class, as if it were all meant to be, precisely as it was. Good thoughts and bad.
All beautiful people think less than beautiful things some of the time. Let them move through you and get on with the practice of life.
I love the pleasant surprise of receiving a text from someone you haven’t heard from in awhile who you’ve been thinking about. The other day a yogini friend and I were exchanging updates; all was well with us both, I mentioned that things were good and busy. Though I miss mom’s presence around the house we seem to have found our groove. There are interesting projects bubbling in my fundraising work, I’m in the midst of an online course, yoga teaching, writing, domesticating with the hubby, socialising and looking after little turd bird and her kooky antics.
I like to be busy, but I do have a tenuous relationship with the t-word. Mostly, there’s never enough of it. Admittedly sometimes, in the mundane and tedious parenting moments, it slows to a snail’s pace. For the most part, I’m a bit testy with time. And here’s the thing, I know I should really love time so much more, as it’s a privilege to experience the life I have.
So back to my friend: she mentioned how her day started with rushing about, but she swiftly caught her attitude, instead telling herself, I have all the time in the world.
She inspired me, and I’ve worked with this little gem of a mantra all week. Within a few days of telling myself this I woke excited by what lie ahead instead of tabulating the mental checklist of things that needed to get done. I had all the time in the world.
Girlie would wake with a grumbly tummy, I’d prepare breakfast and we’d have a leisurely babble, because we had all the time in the world. I’d look at the clock and notice how early we were into the day; we’d enjoy a walk and stop to play at the park, because we had all the time in the world.
During my work days, I’d continue with my “to do” lists, these anchor me with the multiple priorities in my job, but I started to look at them differently. There was still the standard chop and change (stuff always magically comes up doesn’t it?)but I didn’t become annoyed. I had all the time in the world. I’d address the request or task and return to what I was doing. I’d leave the home office at the end of the day satisfied. Never do I manage to tackle everything that I’m trying to get done, as things are continually added to the pile, but I was confident I focused intently and had truly given my best effort. Gone was the guilt that comes from the aimless and inefficient bopping from one half completed activity to another.
The evenings elongated. Anyone with young whippersnappers knows dinner time mayhem: hungry tummies, getting worn out but excited daddy is home, plus mum juggling the odd errand to keep the house organised. Making meals, cleaning the aftermath, baths and bedtime rituals were all a joy. Because….drum roll…. I had all the time in the world!
This mindset change was liberating not only for me, but remarkably positive for my family and everyone I connected with. Taking a break from what I call my “rush addiction” expanded my entire life. In short, I got so much more done and enjoyed equally the process of being in the middle of a task and completing it. I was more patient, aware, present.
When I felt the familiar tension arise in my body, the frenetic frizzling desire to escape exactly where I was in a given moment, to rush ahead to the next thing, and in particular disconnect not only from what I was doing but more importantly who was there, I reminded myself to slow down. Stop. Breathe.
The secret always, is to be in this moment. To savour this time.
In the class I’m teaching at Sevenergy Yoga on Tuesday evenings from 7pm onwards we’ll explore how we experience time. We’ll have a play with some vinyasa, and intersperse it with more static, yin-inspired postures. Pay attention, and see how your body and mind react, if your thoughts become preoccupied with time. Are you wishing the sequence would slow down? Does your body or mind want time to move faster so you can come out of a certain posture? What happens when you embrace and accept whatever is happening right now?
We’ll continue our mindful examination of time, and how we can befriend it in short relaxation and meditation practices. My sincere wish is that you can take your insights with you and apply them to your life, relationships, work and play.
Please join me, I’d love to hear how the experience is for you. To celebrate the launch of this class I’m offering the first class free until 8 April.
For those of you out in the big beautiful world, I’d be interested to hear how your relationship with time is going these days. Any ideas you can share that help you cope with myriad priorities in life? It would be lovely to hear from you too!