Re: Yoga/Harp/RoJean/Hannah

hannah-roberts on #107593

Hi Nancy,
Your yogis and yoginis will totally love it, and so will you!

Every single class, at least one person tells me how beautiful it was. Not nice, or great, but beautiful. This is so tremendously gratifying I can hardly put it into words.

I can easily go on and on about live music and yoga for hours, so I will :-)

There are several studios in Montreal offering live music classes:

-Naada Yoga, where the teachers are the musicians (as is your case), and I believe they alternate one playing a class and one teaching a class, with live music only on weekends.

-Equilibrium Yoga, who has house musicians that play in some classes (he is a violinist/guitarist/trained music therapist and she is a singer and flutist). This studio is also home to a huge, awesome gong!

-Luna Yoga, a Jivamukti studio, has live music for special occasions.

-Yoga Sangha has live music for their Yoga Trance Dance about once a month.

Finally, there’s the studio where I have practiced since October 2009, Studio Bliss. This spring, they decided to add live music to 1-2 classes a day, and I asked for an audition, feeling the harp would be such a natural fit.
We are four studio musicians total: one singer who creates Indian-inspired backgrounds using a laptop and sampling software, one multi-instrumentalist (guitar/djembe/looper), one guzhengist (amazing Chinese zither) and me.

My experience is so overwhelmingly positive that at this point, playing in my three classes each week (two hatha flow, one restorative) are my favourite parts of the week, and I often feel as relaxed after playing in a class as I do after my own yoga practice!

As a yogini, I LOVE live music classes. I really find they add a tremendous aspect of present-moment awareness and help to relax me while also giving me a great deal of focus.

I blend improvisation with repertoire, mostly less well-known Celtic
and harp therapy-specific collections (I have Cindy Blevins Bedside
Compendium plus Christina Tourin’s Illuminations and Iona Inspirations,
which I draw from heavily, especially for restorative). I stay away
from things that could be very familiar so as not to add too much
“outside world” to their practice. Although sometimes I play a little
classical or medieval before or between classes, as it really helps
quiet down the bustle and get students centered.

I follow
their movements, using upward and downward movements with their breath,
using lower tones for their legs and upper tones for the chest and
arms. I position myself in the room so the students are on one side of
the harp and I am on the other, and parallel to the teacher’s mat. This
helps me see the movements via the teacher without “watching” them –
sometimes people can feel self-conscious in yoga class.

I like
to use Christina Tourin’s Celtic Circle of Music for the hatha flow
classes (I bought her Creative Harping improv videos, feeling they would be of great help, and they are!) This is
basically starting in Mixolydian, moving to Aeolian, and ending in
Ionian. I often add on Dorian to the beginning of the cycle. I really
notice the students brighten up with Dorian/Mixolydian modes, which are
so mystic and ancient-sounding.

I work much more with the sheet
music above in my restorative class. I improvise softly while the
teacher demonstrates the pose, and then play about one piece per pose,
repeating measures as needed for the duration of the pose.

often do glissandos using enharmonic equivalents during their final
relaxation pose (raising the third and seventh notes of the scale the
harp is tuned to). I occasionally do this during their meditation, and
very, very occasionally when there is a very difficult pose such as an
arm balance and people look frustrated and irritated. Because they now
associate the sound with relaxing, they lighten up. But I
make sure NEVER to “cry wolf” with it.

For their relaxation, another thing I like to do play my Reverie harp, strumming with my right hand and creating some “sparkles” with two fairy balls in mesh jewelry bags in my left hand. This also relaxes my hands and wrists after an hour of harp. On Monday nights, when I play two classes in a row, at least one savasana is the Reverie harp and fairy balls.

Practicing live-music yoga and getting to know other yogi musicians has also gotten me quite addicted to Tibetan bowls, so I sometimes bring mine and strike and sing them along with the ones at the studio, during meditations, pranayama and any chanting.

I look forward to hearing about your experience playing for your students. What style of yoga do you teach?
I would bet money they’re going to be overjoyed, and you will hear a chorus of “beautifuls”!