Last weekend I helped design and lead a workshop that combined yoga and a live music experience for the Northwest Yoga Conference. Using music in yoga classes is nothing new, but we decided to offer live music not as background, but on its own as a vehicle for amplifying the change of consciousness that yoga creates. We had hoped that the music would awaken within the participants a genuine presence of Spirit, or simply a deeper experience of who they truly are.

I worked with two amazing yoga instructors from the Ananda Institute of Living Yoga, Samara Spitzer and Lynne Steele, 2 violinists Paean Lee, Sabrina Hamilton, another cellist, Maria Scherer Wilson, as well as a tamboura player, Krishnapriya Brack. The evening before we got together for the first time and decided which pieces of music would fit well after each of the 4 yoga flows and pranayama breathing exercises.

For instance, Bach’s G Major Prelude from the 1st Cello Suite fit beautifully after a set that included Sun Salutations, emphasizing devotion, gratitude, and self-offering. The participants simply sat quietly on their mats, focusing on how the music resonated within their newly expanded inner space.

After poses that focused on awakening inner power, we played a spirited, uplifting piece that amplified inner vitality entitled Lift Your Hearts. Following a set of calming poses and pranayama, Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus fit beautifully.

After inversion poses, they were guided into Savasana (the corpse pose – deep relaxation), giving me the opportunity to improvise over a beautiful tanpura texture. While in this deeply receptive state, we also played a deeply calming piece called The Divine Romance and Bach’s Air on the G String.

We guided them carefully into a sitting meditation, using a devotional chant that I led with harmonium:

So do Thou my Lord: Thou and I, never apart.
Wave of the sea, dissolve in the sea!
I am the bubble, make me the sea,
Make me the sea, oh, make me the sea!
Wave of the sea, dissolve in the sea!
I am the bubble, make me the sea.

At the end of the 10-minute meditation, we ended with a powerful string arrangement of Life Mantra by Swami Kriyananda.

And there it was—the genuine deeper experience of who we truly are.

In the sharing time that followed, the overwhelmingly positive comments from the participants confirmed our hopes: yoga, meditation and musical performance created an incredible change of consciousness and energy felt by everyone. The vibe in the room was positive and electric. The Light that shone from everyone’s eyes was brighter. Much brighter.

On a facebook comment, someone mentioned:

This was one of the most powerful yogic experiences I have been a part of. It was beyond incredible. Thank you all so much for sharing this experience with all of us.

I’m excited to explore where this leads!

Music has a great purpose to awaken the souls of many. The time has come to make that happen.

from L to R: Lynne, Sabrina, Paean, Maria, Samara

Discoveries from the Heart of Yoga, Music and Meditation

4 thoughts on “Discoveries from the Heart of Yoga, Music and Meditation

  • March 4, 2018 at 5:12 am

    David, Reading this post my heart soared! What an extraordinary experience and concept. When I became a yoga teacher many many moons ago, we had chanting at the beginning and end of class and silence during the instructions, asanas and deep relaxation. Currently everywhere you go there is a jumble of back-round music throughout the class, which I often find distracting; and in teaching I often forget to turn on music. What you and the musicians have created seems really beautiful! Though we do not have access to live-music, I am going to explore using (recorded) music for reflection at various intervals in the class, and see where it takes us all. There is so much beautiful Ananda music to draw from, and I would welcome any suggestions you may have from classical music. Thank you! Blessings. jiavanna

    • March 4, 2018 at 12:07 pm

      Dear Jiavanna, thank you so much for reading! I’m not sure how much recordings can convey the power and vibration of live music (recordings rarely capture the presence I feel in performance), but it is worth a try! I would simply explore the energy you feel and find music to match. I would suggest recordings of real instruments, though, avoiding the synth. Please let me know what you discover! With blessings, David

  • March 4, 2018 at 10:12 am

    Have you thought to make a CD of this with suggestions for the flow of the asanas? I think it would be wonderful to guide with sound as well as movement! And the music you selected is wonderful!
    It would be lovely for home practice.

    • March 4, 2018 at 12:00 pm

      An interesting idea! The power of live performance is really hard to fabricate through a recording, but it would be interesting to try!


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