CANADIAN MUSICIAN April 2013
FINDING BALANCE IN A ROCK ‘N’ ROLL WORLD
PART ONE: THE POWER OF YOGA FOR MUSICIANS
by Parvati Devi
The music business is built on rock ‘n’ roll ethics – partying hard and living large – as aspiring stars and executives strive to make their immortal mark on the world and live like gods. When injuries, exhaustion, discontent, overdoses and addictions set in, all artists and business heads must make peace with the sobering fact that we are actually part of nature, and as such, must live by earthly, mortal laws.
For some, that may sounds like a drag. But the good news is, living in alignment with nature lets us tap into an infinite well of power and creativity, the very life-force that continually creates this amazing universe in which we live. So why not trade in the never ending, rollercoaster search for temporary highs for a life that welcomes eternal bliss?
Trade in Fools Gold for the Real Thing
If you are tired of fool’s gold not delivering the goods you seek, take a look instead at a radiant, ancient practice and science of life that is making strides all over the world. The yoga market in 2012 was a staggering 27 billion dollar industry in the USA, as compared to the 32 billion music industry. (www.statisticbrain.com) Statistics alone show there has to be something to this yoga stuff.
The cream rises to the top and now yoga is at the top of our world market, right alongside our favorite artists. If U2, Sting, Alanis, Madonna, Maroon 5, Moby and The Flaming Lips are into yoga, why not give it a go?
What is Yoga Anyway?
The art and science of Yoga reaches far beyond the impressions most Westerners have of it being a series of bendy, physical exercises. Yoga is a systematic body of knowledge and practice that teaches integrated living, while living our highest good, following our deepest joy.
While yogic knowledge spans the breadth of spiritual study, herbal medicine, astrology and such, what we mostly know of yoga in the Western world is one small branch of it, called Hatha Yoga, which concentrates on the health and purity of the body. Whether you are doing Kripalu, Ashtanga, Hot Yoga, Power Yoga, Kundalini, or any other kind of yoga in a local yoga studio, you are likely doing some form of Hatha Yoga.
The goal of Hatha yoga is the purification of subtle channels that run through the body, so as to live a life of unending bliss. It is understood that our ego and our attachments are in the way of this fountain of joy, and as such, clog our ability to tap into true abundance.
Say Goodbye to Stress, Strain and Side Effects
If you no longer want the stress and strain of fighting for what you want, and are ready to ride the natural tides rather than push or resist the flow, if you are ready to embody your true awesomeness without fanfare and exhaustive effort, yoga can help you touch the eternal and channel the bliss you have always wanted. And the best part is, there are no negative side effects. In fact, the opposite is true. All side effects you get from yoga and meditation only serve to boost your creativity, increase your stamina and anchor your self-esteem as you face the most challenging times in your music career.
Less Effort, Maximum Gain
Whether you are on the road, on stage or in the studio, yoga and meditation can provide you with simple, effective tools to help you get the most out of your valuable life-energy and time. Think: less effort, maximum gain.
As a singer-songwriter, performer and producer who is heavily into yoga (ok, I am currently working on a book, working title “Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie” – yes, I am seriously into it), I will share some of the amazing things yoga gives me on a daily basis as I face the extreme and unique demands of the full-on music business. From tips for keeping you fit and centered when touring, to how dealing with performance jitters and how to avoid that sore back you get from too much computer work, I have been living it all, ran into walls and had to find my way out, thankfully, through the life-saving practice of yoga and meditation.
YOGA IS A PRACTICE
Healthy In the Midst of It All
We are organic, dynamic beings that are meant to move and flow. Enduring long touring car/bus/plane rides, or long stints in the studio, we need to move and stretch regularly to keep our muscles limber and fit for shows. I describe life as producer and touring musician being like moving from zero to 100, when we have to quickly shift from more sedentary creative and administrative work, to jumping up on stage and giving the performance of our life that will woo our fans. We need to learn how to make our life flow with more wholeness and fluidity if we are going to last through it all.
The physical exercises found in Hatha Yoga are a series of bodily postures that transition smoothly from one to the next. Each pose is like a position in which we may find ourselves in life. The child pose, for example, when you curl up, folded inward with your head on your knees, shins on the floor, is introverted and rejuvenating, a bit womb-like. We have all been there, and we need to go back to that inner child, in our inner space to create and rejuvenate.
Tadasana, or mountain pose, is a standing position we find ourselves in when we stand anywhere, say for example, when waiting for a bus, standing in line at the supermarket or proudly at the podium receiving our Juno award. But standing with awareness makes the difference between sore feet, knees and back, and effortless and strong presence.
Learning to move smoothly and mindfully between poses in our yoga practice helps us to remember that we can flow through life, not push or pull at things. When we push or pull in a yoga practice, we can injure ourselves. Similarly in life, pushing or pulling at things can cause eventual headache and heartache for our selves and others.
Breathing Is Living
This is where the breath comes in. The breath runs through all living things. It reminds us that we are not isolated islands, but all interconnected. When you think about it, we all breathe the same air – everyone on the planet. This helps us remember to live with greater awareness and responsibility. It also gives us energy, because we are tapped into a collective whole that is so much bigger than our limited ego.
The breath is involved in everything we do. It literally keeps us alive. Yogis say that our life can be measured by how many breaths we have. So in yoga, we learn to watch our breath, be mindful of how it flows and if it carries tension. This also gives us amazing power. When we notice, for example, that our breath is tense, we can see that we are losing energy in that tension. When we allow ourselves to relax, the energy that was trapped in tension becomes available for creative use.
When we practice yoga and move from pose to pose with awareness, noticing our breath, we are in fact practicing how to live a healthier, more grounded, whole, purposeful and happy life. Yoga does not remove us from life, but teaches us to live life with eyes open so we can enjoy it all.
Now that you know a bit about Hatha Yoga, are you ready to try out a few poses with me? Join me next issue for some simple yoga exercises that you can do anywhere to stay fit. After all, YOU are the most important instrument to keep in tune for the success of your music career.