Sunday, November 14, 2010

Music of the Body - Asana and Song (with playlist!)

The first class that made me realize that I wanted to do yoga for the rest of my life was a class I took with Jennifer Pastiloff in Los Angeles. (No, it wasn't this exact class, but it's one of hers.  And as it's winter in New York right now and freezing both on the street and in the studio, I wanted to give you a bit of fantasy-land.)

  I had taken yoga before, in high school, in college, and at YAS (a studio with the tagline "I'm not your Guru - You are" and "the No Om Zone" - no sanskrit, no chanting, just plain ol' asana - I thought it was perfect for me at the time.  Now, a few years later, I'm a sanskrit addict who chants on days even when I don't practice. Weird how you can change with time!)  I could take yoga or leave it, and certainly didn't "get it" (not that I remotely "get it" now - I just know that I don't "get it" and am enjoying the ride of discovery.) 

However, I walked into Jen's class, and was forever changed.  For one thing, while it was OH SO HARD, it was FUN.  I had always experienced yoga as a serious practice for serious people.  Jen's class was, and is, the antithesis of this.  She encouraged self-exploration, silliness, and challenging yourself simply for the sake of growth.  Her light-hearted attitude allowed me to try asanas that I would never have thought possible for my body, and her knowledge of alignment allowed me to try them safely and with relative ease.

One of the aspects that got me seriously hooked was her use of music.  Other classes had used "traditional" (read: new age) music for the practice, which was fine, but certainly never inspired me to keep coming back.  Jen, on the other hand, used Sinead O'Connor, Adele, and so many other contemporary artists with a rock-ish flair.  It had a beat, which was incredibly useful for sun salutations.  It was also another element that allowed me to get more deeply into my own body - yet another example of how transporting music can be.  These days, many teachers I know use contemporary music as a tool for asana, but Jen is really a master of knowing what music to use and when.

While I have mixed feelings about smartphones and my personal dependence on them (more on that later), I must say that my iphone has become an indispensable tool for teaching privately.  I have a number of yoga playlists on it for any style of practice.  Here are some suggestions for a restorative/morning/gentler playlist that I love and really help me get into my practice when it feels like nothing else will. 

The Chain - Ingrid Michaelson
The cannon aspect of this song makes it really nice for Surya Namaskaras, and anything else done in a flow.

Sea of Love - Cat Power
Great for backbending or forward bending.

Kathy's Song - Eva Cassidy
Great for supta padagustasana, supta badha konasana, or anything supine and held for a long period of time.

Naked As We Came - Iron and Wine
Classic and beautiful - I use it for everything.

Lua - Bright Eyes
Twisting, any gentle poses that are held for a long period of time. 

What are some of your favorite songs to practice to? Please share your comments below!

Have a gorgeous day, and keep practicing!


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