Yoga, Song & Transformation

Yoga, Song & Transformation

Throughout life there are songs that we connect with. Each time we hear them it brings us to a place that recognizes the emotion we felt upon first hearing them. Song can transport us beyond our suffering to a place of peace. Although music may not take away the obstacles we face it can help pad the sometimes rough surfaces of the journey we walk upon. Yoga shares with song a similar attribute of being a tool to transport us into the challenges we face with courage instead of avoiding them with fear.

Many Rivers to Cross by Jimmy Cliff is one of those songs that has helped me smooth my troubles. I remember the first time I heard it, I was in high school experiencing some awkward growing pains. I so resonated with the Jamaican art and culture, and the power that emanated from Reggae music. I was moved by the sweet sounds that had a very deep message. The music gave a voice to those struggling with the challenges they faced.I felt that somehow, although my troubles may have looked different, that voice helped me face my own angst. I identified with the struggles felt in the words and tones expressed in an individual and universal level.

“Many rivers to cross

And it’s only my will that keeps me alive

I’ve been licked, washed up for years

And I merely survive because of my pride”

Yoga has had a similar effect on me as does song. While at one time I had hoped yoga practice could take me beyond my suffering to a place that was free from any troubles. I now realize yoga takes me into my troubles and creates a space that allows me to really see how my actions and beliefs create my reality. The solution lies in facing what is in front of me and navigating a course that acknowledges the past and is also willing to take a deep look at reality. 

“Many rivers to cross

But just where to begin, I’m playing for time

There are times I find myself 

Thinking of committing some dreadful crime”

Honesty is a powerful expression. It takes courage and guts to express one’s true feelings. This is where I feel yoga and song has a very deep connection. The very essence of what made me feel a connection upon hearing this was based in hearing the raw emotion of a man taken to the brink of despair and admitting that he was in a dark place. By being bold and voicing this feeling serves as the very tool for overcoming the feeling itself. Deep yoga practice involves addressing pain and turmoil by being strong enough to express personal truth even though it puts us in a place of vulnerability.

I believe we all have “Many Rivers to Cross.” The same way a song can give us strength and pull our emotions to the surface, yoga can serve as a vehicle to process these emotions and create a foundation of peace and acceptance. The journey of life requires the use of many tools to help direct our raw and intense emotion toward a positive place. I encourage you to be willing to go there. I spur you to practice yoga in a way that brings you some solace. I also rally you to sing the songs that hurt. The reason being being it can make you feel a whole lot better.

“Yes, I’ve got many rivers to cross

But I can’t seem to find my way over

Wandering I am lost

As I travel along the white cliffs of Dover”

*Many Rivers To Cross lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group by Jimmy Cliff

Visit Native Yoga Center for In Studio, Livestream & Online Courses

Swim or Sink

Photo by David Scarola

Today is Tuesday, June 16th, 2020 and the beginning of week four since the reopening of Native Yoga Center. It was quite the experience to go from being really busy and having big plans on the horizon to stopping dead in our tracks and putting everything on hold. As you know! Yet the process of moving back again into the mechanics of an operating yoga studio is proving to more interesting than I anticipated.

When we shut down we immediately implemented the use of Livestream classes. In the beginning I kept all of our classes on our personal calendar with the the thought that we would just open up right where we left off. As the weeks and months continued to go by it became obvious that that was not going to happen. I swiped my whole calendar clean. That was monumental. We have been operating for the past 14 years on a schedule that slowly grew from 10 classes a week to over 30 classes a week. The process of clearing all of that out was nerve wracking and liberating. We had switched back to two class times a day, one at 10am and another at 4pm. We went back to the gold old days of just my wife and I running the entire show and never taking a day off together. Bitter sweet. Humbling. Refreshing. Challenging. These are just a few words to sum up the experience of tightening the belt.

Well along comes the day that the restrictions are lifted and we are allowed to reopen. I had this grand vision in my mind that every one would be so excited to come back in and get right back to practicing. That is not really the way it is going. We are currently running public classes limited to 9 in number so that everyone has 6 feet between them as per the guidelines. We are also filming the classes on zoom so people can join at home. We also record the class so that it can be accessed on our online site. The majority of our students are sticking with practicing on zoom. Slowly people are trickling in but when I say slowly, I mean sloooooowly.

I am truly beginning to realize that this is really going to be an endurance event. I really believe that as a small business this is going to push all of us, yoga studios, restaurants, salons and pretty much all service industry related professionals into a place where we are going to have to keep our heads up and just dig in really deep. I do believe that those of us that are passionate about what we do and have committed our lives to our craft are going to get through this. I do think though that it is way bigger than I originally understood.

I found a bit of solace today. I texted a friend who I often confide in and mentioned my beleaguered outlook and she said, “we need to pull up our spiritual boot straps.” Not exactly sure why that was the catalyst I needed but sometimes it is a simple perspective shift that can make all the difference. I think my expectations weren’t matching up with reality and this equation always dishes out a good bit of humble pie. My solution today is to reevaluate my assumptions. Maybe I need to realign what I think should happen and just accept it as it is. Pretty much the recipe that always in necessary when things don’t go as planned. So there we have it. Who knows how this is all going to go? Instead of thinking I do I am going to resign myself to admitting that I don’t.

My last good endurance challenge was a triathlon and at the beginning during the swim I looked up and saw how much further I had to go. I had thought the swim was going to be easy which I quickly surmised was just the opposite. In the flash of a moment I came to a conclusion. It’s time to swim because we all know what the alternative is.