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