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    Nancy Edwards

    Hi RoJean and Hannah, I saw your posts in the thread of “Where Have You Played Your Harp”, about playing your harp in yoga classes, and I would be interested in hearing about your experiences.


    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”!


    Nancy, here is an article I thought you also might find interesting:
    I found Amrita’s site after hearing her interview on Jonathan Goldman’s Healing Sounds Radio. Her story of healing herself through sound is quite inspiring.
    I know there is a good bit of poking fun around healing music, some with good reason, and quite a lot in my very own home from my musician husband who has degrees in physics and sound engineering and is not, shall we say, “cosmically inclined.”
    However, even he was pretty enthusiastic about this article and the its guidelines in terms of rhythm, tempo, harmony. Maybe you will also find it helpful in playing for your students!

    Nancy Edwards

    Hannah, thanks so much for your informative and interesting reply, and for taking the time to respond.


    Hi Hannah! Wow, just the type of information I was looking for! I am thinking about playing harp for yoga classes here in Honolulu, and needed information on what to play…fortunately, I am a student of Tina Tourin’s International Harp Therapy Program, and know many of the improvisational techniques she teaches and her own recorded repertoire. It just goes to show you that what you put on the Internet 3 1/2 years ago continues to be helpful to others! Thanks so much!


    I too have played for yoga classes, especially therapeutic yoga classes. I’ve played a collection of world flutes as well as the harp. I haven’t done it in a long time, but it was a joyful experience, and people always expressed such gratitude afterwards, and some even told me that I was part of the reason they came to the class. I miss it… maybe it’ll start up again! The woman who taught has gone on to focus mainly on trainings, so not to many classes anymore. Good luck… it is so fun and rewarding.


    Hi Kevin, that makes me so happy to hear! I hope there will be more and more harpists and harp therapists playing for yoga. I’m now playing for several studios and doing a yoga teacher training myself, and I love harping for yoga more than ever.
    Please keep us posted on your yoga/harp journey, Kevin!


    Hannah the link to the article was broken, do you know of where else I could find it? It sounded interesting. 🙂


    Natalie, it looks as though the Healing Music organization has closed their site. I hate that, as it was a very informative article in terms of specific qualities of healing music. I will look around to see if there’s not some way of finding a cache of it that I can copy and paste.

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