Music has been used as an expression of devotion since the beginning of time.
As long as I can remember, music has been a part of my life. Growing up, my parents got a kick out of teaching me the lyrics to rock songs that were far beyond my years, I was brought to concerts in my stroller, I’ve dabbled with most varieties of instruments, and when I sing in my shower, I basically sound like Adele. Okay so that last part’s a bit of a stretch, but music has permeated everything I’ve ever done. I can remember what I was listening to during so many milestones of my life – my 6th grade graduation, the day I got my driver’s license, the first time I lost someone I loved, my 21st birthday, my first (and second and third) breakup, my first class with my favorite Yoga teacher – because it was that important.
So it’s no surprise that now that I’m doing what I’ll probably always consider the great work of my life-teaching Yoga-music has a huge place. Sound is so tremendously powerful. To me it’s on the most primal level. Have you ever hit a spot in a song that just stirs your soul? A friend once said to me, “good music changes your molecules.” I’m so on board with that. I’m not entirely sure what a “spiritual experience” is supposed to feel like, but the closest I’ve ever been involved one of those molecule-changing songs.
When I practice at home, the first thing I do is turn off the phone and turn up the tunes. I love the feeling of getting lost in my practice, moving in whatever way my body tells me to, however the music moves me. I come up with sequences for my classes by trying different dances out at home first. It’s just the way I operate.
I absolutely love creating playlists for my classes. The entire dynamic of the room can change based on song choice. Music can inspire, empower, soften, calm, energize, and so much more. I spend a ton of time listening to Pandora to discover new artists that I like. I meticulously place songs in the order that I think works best to create a feel in my class. Some days I’m in the mood for the croon-ey, soulful awesomeness that is Bon Iver (okay-most days, I love them), some days I want the xx’s techy-indie pop, sometimes I want the Pixies rock or Krishna Das’ traditional kirtan. Once I even wanted Bruce Springsteen. The class was in New Jersey, it worked.
I’ve recently started playing the harmonium on my own and in my classes. The act of playing music to me is, truly, the closest to a divine encounter I’ve ever had in my life. When I play an instrument or use my voice, when I’m the one to create the sound, it’s as though I’m not even in my body. As though I’m being moved and guided by something bigger than myself. It’s the same feeling I get practicing Yoga, and when the two are entwined, it’s undeniable to me – it’s magic.