Rox Does Yoga

Yoga, Wellness, and Life

Yoga Class Mix #2 June 4, 2014

Filed under: music,yoga — R. H. Ward @ 10:39 am
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I just realized I never posted the second yoga class mix I made (and I posted the first one over two years ago – although I’ve done mixes for my holiday classes, I really have only planned two mixes for regular full-length yoga classes since I finished my teacher training. But you know, it’s been a busy few years!). I really like this mix because I’ve worked in some songs that don’t come from the typical “yoga” milieu. This mix has been working well because it’s a little longer that the other one I made; my class at Wellness on Park was an hour and 15 minutes, so this filled the time nicely.

Yoga Class Mix # 2: twelve songs, 1.3 hours

Track No. Song Title Duration Artist Album Notes
1 Baba Hanuman 13:59 Krishna Das Breath of the Heart Krishna Das, always a favorite. I like this one as a class-starter because it has a nice, easy, regular beat to warm up to.
2 Jahta Dance 4:16 DJ Drez Jahta Beat – The Progression And then with DJ Drez we start kicking into a higher gear.
3 Drop 4:53 Cornelius Point I love this song – it’s basically a remix of water noises you can dance to. So much fun.
4 Three 3:49 Massive Attack Protection A great song to keep the energy moving.
5 Runaway 5:06 Beats Antique Blind Threshold A friend turned me onto Beats Antique. She loves them because she’s a belly dancer, but I think their music works beautifully for a yoga class!
6 Raghupati 5:38 Bhagavan Das Now A good solid beat for standing practice.
7 A Higher Place 4:31 Röyksopp Melody A.M. Röyksopp is an electronic music duo from Norway whom I discovered when I was living in Boston several years ago with much cooler people than I am. I thought the beat of this song and the title/lyrics fit well for a yoga class.
8 Devi ‘Rave’ 4:29 Krishna Das Pilgrim Heart More Krishna Das – this one really gets you moving!
9 Nataraja 15:06 Jai Uttal/Ben Leinbach Music for Yoga and Other Joys And here we start slowing it down. The perfect song for transitioning through the last standing poses, through the balance pose (ideally: dancer pose, natarajasana!) and to the floor.
10 The Greatest Gift of All 4:32 Lotus Lotus This song can work well for seated poses or for savasana if you get there early.
11 Gayatri Mantra 9:49 Deva Premal The Essence I love Deva Premal’s version of the Gayatri Mantra! I think it’s a great savasana song.
12 Bliss 6:59 Yogini Putumayo Presents Yoga  And one last savasana song, just in case. Also a good one for winding down the class if you like to keep the music running while people are rolling up their mats and getting ready to go.
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Mother’s Day Yoga Class May 19, 2014

Filed under: music,yoga — R. H. Ward @ 10:24 am
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I taught a Mother’s Day class! Well, not on actual Mother’s Day, it was during my usual Tuesday class time – but it was a class designed for moms, with lots of fun partner poses for moms attending with their offspring (although offspring had to be at least 12 or older – that would have been an entirely different sort of class). It was a small class, but a lot of fun!

Here’s the sequence I taught:

And here’s the playlist I created for the class. I tried to include music with a lot of feminine energy, both specifically mother-related and just general girl power tunes; I pulled from both my yoga music collection and pop music. I was pretty happy with the overall playlist – my only sadness is that I made it long enough that I wouldn’t have to worry about running out of music, but instead there were great songs we didn’t get to!

Mother’s Day Class Mix: 18 songs, 1 hour 27 minutes

Track No. Song Title Duration Artist Album Notes
1 Ong Namo 10:03 Snatam Kaur Grace I’ve only just discovered Snatam Kaur. This is a nice light song for the minutes before class begins.
2 New Beginning 5:33 Tracy Chapman New Beginning I like the idea of Tracy Chapman kicking off a yoga class.
3 Sons and Daughters 5:18 The Decemberists For obvious reasons.
4 High on a Mountain Top 2:42 Loretta Lynn Van Lear Rose Loretta Lynn has a great spoken-word song on this album about her mother, poor and desperate, stealing a pair of red shoes for her when she was a little child. A spoken-word song wouldn’t work for a yoga class, but that’s what made me think to pull a Loretta Lynn song for this class.
5 Holiday 4:06 Madonna The Immaculate Collection Because Mother’s Day is a holiday!
6 Girls Just Want To Have Fun 3:56 Cyndi Lauper The Essential Cyndi Lauper For obvious reasons.
7 Ice Cream 2:36 Sarah McLachlan The Freedom Sessions What Mother’s Day would be complete without ice cream?
8 Comptine d’un autre été : L’ap 2:21 Yann Tiersen Amélie Soundtrack Because Amélie is one of the girliest movies I’ve ever seen, but without being trite or predictable.
9 32 Flavors 6:07 Ani DiFranco Not A Pretty Girl More ice cream.
10 Never Knew What Love Meant 5:22 Lotus Lotus A yoga album, but it felt appropriate.
11 Harbor 4:24 Vienna Teng Warm Strangers One of my all-time favorite songs. When I listened to it in the context of a mother-child love rather than a romantic love, I got all teary.
12 Dante’s Prayer 5:25 Loreena McKennitt Live in Paris and Toronto (disc 1) I thought Loreena would be a good pick to include, and this is a light and beautiful song (although I could do without the 30 seconds of people clapping at the end of the live track – but the studio version has monks chanting, which didn’t feel right for Mother’s Day).
13 River, Run 3:46 Suddenly, Tammy! (We Get There When We Do.) My favorite obscure band! Love this song.
14 Beloved 7:05 Anoushka Shankar Rise A great yoga song.
15 True Colors 3:48 Cyndi Lauper The Essential Cyndi Lauper I had to include this one. I often sang this to my YB when she was a tiny baby. In this class, this ended up being the savasana song, which I liked.
16 Green Island Lullaby 3:17 Vienna Teng Warm Strangers This is just a lovely lullaby, in Teng’s family’s native Taiwanese.
17 Yemaya Assessu 3:34 Deva Premal The Essence I love Deva Premal’s version of the Gayatri Mantra, but this is a lighter, less serious chant. Friendly-like.
18 Bliss 6:59 Yogini Putumayo Presents Yoga The final song on the excellent Putomayo yoga collection. I included it here just in case I was running out of music and needed a little more for savasana. Apparently I needn’t have worried!

 

 

Yoga Workshop at the LepreCon March 31, 2014

Filed under: music,yoga — R. H. Ward @ 10:10 am
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Two weeks ago I had a great opportunity to give a yoga workshop at my church. Every year the youth group holds a retreat/sleepover over St. Patrick’s Day weekend (they call it the “LepreCon”, haha). My friend Warren, a social worker and therapist, was giving a workshop on meditation, and he asked if I’d be interested in giving one on yoga (later I found out that Warren had done both last year and his yoga portion had been semi-disastrous, so I was doubly glad I’d agreed to help out!).

I only had half an hour, so I began by talking a little about the benefits of yoga (physical, mental, and emotional), emphasized how a yoga pose should be both comfortable and steady, and described how to use your breath as a guide to where you are in your yoga practice. Then I led the group through a brief series of basic core postures and through a guided relaxation. Warren then took over and led us through several meditation exercises: diaphragmatic breathing and three-part breathing, staying focused in the present moment, and a four-part loving kindness meditation, in which we sent forgiveness and compassion first to ourselves, then to a loved one, acquaintances or strangers, and finally to someone who has hurt us. It was a really great experience, both leading the yoga portion of the workshop and participating in the meditation exercises.

Here’s the sequence of yoga postures I taught:

  • Basic Warm-up: < 5 minutes
    • child’s pose
    • cat/cow
    • down dog
    • standing forward fold
  • Standing Work: 10-15 minutes
    • mountain pose
    • 2 half salutes
    • 1 salute low lunges
    • 1 salute high lunges
    • warrior 1
    • warrior 2
    • triangle
    • standing poses other side
    • tree both sides
  • Cool Down: < 5 minutes
    • seated forward fold
    • knees to chest
  • Savasana/Guided Relaxation: < 5 minutes

And here’s the playlist I used. In planning the workshop, I was torn on whether to include an extra song or two just in case; I decided to leave them out, so as to help me stay on target with timing, but as it turned out I could’ve used an extra two minutes of music. So this is the playlist I wish I had used. It runs about 29 minutes.

Song Title Artist
Cherry Ratatat
Jahta Dance DJ Drez
Runaway Beats Antique
Drop Cornelius
Katamari Stars Katamari Damacy Soundtrack
Bliss Yogini
 

Holiday Yoga Class Sequence and Playlist December 27, 2013

Filed under: music,yoga — R. H. Ward @ 11:37 am
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Hey there, friends and fans of yoga. With all the holiday cheer going around lately, I haven’t had much time for blogging. So here’s a quick update:

My holiday themed yoga class on December 17 went wonderfully well! My Tuesday night class has not been particularly populous since I started teaching it in October, so I was hoping I might get five or six people – about that many had emailed to say they were coming. And then on the 17th, it was snowy and slushy and cold, and I worried no one would feel like going out. Well, my five or six people showed up, and then a few more people arrived, and then there were five more people coming up the stairs, and we packed the room! It turns out that the yoga studio at Wellness on Park can fit about 14 people (15 if the last person is Donna and she squeezes herself into the corner by the door without a mat), and sadly we even had to turn away a few latecomers. It was fantastic! We had a great friendly group that included three mother-daughter sets, which I absolutely loved. The class was a lot of fun to teach and everyone seemed to enjoy the holiday energy.

Here’s the sequence I taught (I had planned on a few more things but I had to adapt and think on my feet since some things, like legs up the wall, were obviously not going to work with the number of people we had in the room):

Warm Up

  • Child’s pose
  • Cat/cow
  • Thread the needle
  • Downward dog
  • standing forward fold
  • mountain pose

Sun Salutations

  • 5 half sun salutes
  • 2 salutes with lunges
  • 2 full salutes

Standing Sequence

  • warrior 1
  • warrior 2
  • triangle pose
  • revolved triangle
  • extended side angle
  • revolved side angle
  • pyramid/head-to-knee pose
  • prasarita
  • Repeat sequence on the other side

Balance!

  • tree pose
  • quad stretch
  • dancer pose
  • repeat balance sequence on the other side

Cool Down: Seated

  • Garland pose/squat
  • Staff pose
  • Seated forward fold
  • Upward plank
  • Janu sirsasana
  • Janu sirsasana with a twist

Cool Down: Reclining

  • happy baby
  • bridge pose
  • reclining twist
  • savasana
  • Brief meditation

I tried to focus on heart-opening poses and on centering and balance poses. When it’s cold out, we tend to round the shoulders and hunch down into ourselves just when we most need to open the heart; I wanted to include an element of centering and balance because the holiday season is tough on the body and drains energy, even if we love all the celebration. I wanted people to feel relaxed and refreshed and ready to tackle all the gift wrapping and caroling and parties to come.

And here’s the playlist for the class’s music. A few of these songs I might cut for future classes – “The Winter Solstice” by Sufjan Stevens in particular didn’t work for me – but overall I was really happy with the effect.

Song Title Artist
all that I want The Weepies
Maybe This Christmas Ron Sexsmith
Wintersong Sarah McLachlan
What A Year For A New Year Dan Wilson
anorak christmas Sally Shapiro
The Winter Solstice Sufjan Stevens
Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas eels
Christmas with the Snow Marah
Holiday Vampire Weekend
The Christmas Song The Raveonettes
Hey Guys! It’s Christmas Time! Sufjan Stevens
Christmastime Smashing Pumpkins
12.23.95 Jimmy Eat World
Snow Loreena McKennitt
Snowman Suddenly, Tammy!
The Peace Carol John Denver & The Muppets
Sweet Secret Peace Neil Finn
Song For A Winter’s Night Sarah McLachlan
Christmas In The Room Sufjan Stevens
The Atheist Christmas Carol Vienna Teng
Hilli Amiina

I hope all of you are having a wonderful holiday, no matter how you celebrate.

 

Gayatri Mantra April 30, 2013

Filed under: meditation,music — R. H. Ward @ 1:51 pm
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I really enjoyed listening to this version of the Gayatri Mantra during savasana at the end of last night’s yoga class, so I thought I’d share it with you:

Here’s a transliteration of the Hindu text, which is drawn from the Rig Veda:

Om bhur bhuvah svah
tat-savitur varenyam
bhargo devasya dhimahi
dhiyo yo nah pracodayat

I looked around for a few different translations. Wikipedia has several nice ones, but they’re all male-centric, referring to the creator deity as a “he”. Here’s a non-gendered one I’ve read before:

Embracing Earth, Heaven and Beyond
The sacred source is revealed
Evoking the resplendent flame
The all-pervading light venerates us all.
(From The Secret Power of Yoga by Nischala Joy Devi, page 108.)

Devi actually connects the mantra to Gayatri as a female creator and the mother of the Vedas (see pages 107-116). Devi writes, “From Divine Light, she creates all life.” I like thinking of the mantra in that spirit (especially since I used it for savasana during a prenatal yoga class!).

And another, simpler, translation that I quite like:

Let us meditate on the light of the sun which represents God, and may our thoughts be inspired by that divine light.
(From Sanskrit.org.)

 

Yoga Music: Putomayo Presents May 7, 2012

Filed under: music,yoga — R. H. Ward @ 10:52 am
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Lately I’ve been loving the Yoga CD from Putomayo Presents. It seems really cheesy, I know, but I’ve generally liked the Putomayo collections I’ve heard.

Kyle has a copy of this CD at Awaken, and one week I forgot my iPod and needed something to play instead. Now I’ve been listening to it a lot and not worrying about bringing my iPod anymore.

This week, Stacey was my only student, so since we both like the CD I put it on. I think I must have turned the volume up a little louder than usual, because at the end of class, she said, “Was that the same CD?” I felt the same way – it sort of changes and grows on you the more you listen to it, and hearing it a little louder made it into a whole different experience.

The collection includes some artists I was already familiar with, like Krishna Das and Ben Leinbach, but most of the musicians I’ve never heard before. Overall it’s hard for me to list stand-out songs (other than the Krishna Das, since he has such a distinctive style) because the whole album just blends really well together and evokes a mellow but uplifting mood. Most songs keep up a good pace – not really fast or pumping enough for a vinyasa class, I don’t think, but definitely upbeat enough to keep your hatha practice moving and inspired.

However, there’s one track that really does make the album for me: the second-to-last song (track 13), “Offering Chant”, by Lama Gyurme and Jean-Philippe Rykiel. It’s absolutely amazing, just a Buddhist lama chanting over a beautiful piano piece. So simple and so lovely. It’s a perfect savasana song, at least for me. If you take an extra-long savasana, the final track, “Bliss” by Yogini, is also very pretty and savasana-appropriate, but I honestly never get there because the offering chant just fills me up.

Overall, I highly recommend the Putomayo Presents: Yoga album as a soundtrack for an introspective and inspiring practice!

 

Yoga Music: Class Mix # 1 February 9, 2012

Filed under: music,yoga — R. H. Ward @ 1:33 pm
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For a long while I had trouble finding music I liked for yoga. Then F got me one CD, a friend at work passed along another, I picked up a few recommendations from Yoga Journal or random Amazon lists, I figured out what that one great song they always play at the yoga studio was, and along the way I built up a bit of a collection. I thought I’d share with you a mix I made for a yoga class.

Yoga Class Mix # 1: nine songs, 1 hour

Track No. Song Title Duration Artist Album Notes
 1 Crazy Heart  7:10 Bahramji and Maneesh de Moor Call Of The Mystic I discovered Maneesh de Moor in somebody’s yoga music list on amazon.com. I don’t love the whole album, but this is a good, mellow song to start out a yoga practice and warm you up.
 2 Mahadeva  5:41 Anoushka Shankar Rise This up-tempo song gets your practice moving.
 3 Rupa Tujhe Deva  9:10 Cheb I Sabbah Krishna Lila This one’s a little funky, with some Eastern flair.
 4 Namah Shivaya  7:17 Krishna Das Pilgrim Heart Krishna Das is one of my very favorite musicians for yoga. He’s got like a dozen albums and they all pretty much sound alike, which is great because you can pop on one of his albums and just asana out. This is one of his more upbeat songs. I really like to chant along with him as I practice.
 5 Self Travels  5:27 DJ Drez Jahta Beat – The Progression I found DJ Drez recommended in Yoga Journal. His music is like yoga meets dance club: funky, great beat, lots of interesting samples mixed in.
 6 Nataraja  15:06 Jai Uttal/Ben Leinbach Music for Yoga and Other Joys This is the song I loved at the yoga center. The whole album is solid, but this song is just fantastic. It’s mellow and really long, so you can just flow from pose to pose while the song backs you up. I put this song here in my mix because around here it’s usually time for a balance pose, and this song reminds me to do natarajasana.
 7 Rever’s Edge  2:49 FLCL Soundtrack FLCL is an anime series that my friend DB loves, and I scored this song from him. It’s a really beautiful little instrumental, and coming at this point in the mix, it reminds me to slow it down for savasana if I haven’t already.
 8 Alone In Kyoto  4:48 AIR Lost In Translation Soundtrack I discovered this song by accident: I’d downloaded the soundtrack to the movie Lost in Translation and put it on my iPod but hadn’t listened to it yet, and then the song came up in random play and I was floored. It’s really beautiful, perfect for calming down and getting ready to relax.
 9 Sri Krishna Arati  6:51 Bhagavan Das Now Bhagavan Das’s album “Now” is really structured with yoga in mind – you can just pop in the whole album and practice all the way through. This is the savasana song. It’s a good length for savasana, and it even ends with bells gently chiming to bring you back to yourself, followed by “Om” and “Shanti” each chanted three times. I usually stop the song (by gradually turning the volume down) before we get to the bells so I can bring my students out of savasana myself, but it’s a perfect song for an individual practice.