Rox Does Yoga

Yoga, Wellness, and Life

Yoga Class Mix #2 June 4, 2014

Filed under: music,yoga — R. H. Ward @ 10:39 am
Tags:

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.
 

Mother’s Day Yoga Class May 19, 2014

Filed under: music,yoga — R. H. Ward @ 10:24 am
Tags: , , , ,

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
Tags: , , ,

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
Tags: , ,

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
Tags: ,

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 Journal: May 2012 issue May 8, 2012

Filed under: reflections,yoga,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 1:00 pm
Tags: , , ,

I’m still way behind on my YJ reading – have a stack of them from the fall and winter to go through – but I am at least trying to keep up with the current issues. The May 2012 YJ is the Creativity Issue.

The creativity article, “Express Your Self”, was interesting, but most of it wasn’t anything I hadn’t read in YJ before, I don’t think, although I did like the little profile of Ann Patchett, who I really admire (but in the photo she totally needs to be holding a cup of tea). My big take-away from the article was the bit on “creative mindfulness” (page 101), which cites Jeffrey Davis, an apparently well-known teacher of yoga and writing. This is an intersection I’m really interested in, and I’m looking forward to checking out his book The Journey from the Center to the Page. Along the same lines, the reviews section includes a review of Hidden Treasure by Gangaji, which encourages students to delve deeply into their own personal stories and narratives to better understand the core Self. Just based on the descriptions, it almost sounds like the two books would be complimentary: Davis using yoga as a muse and a tool to help center you when you sit down to write, and Gangaji using writing/storytelling to help you connect with your spirituality. I’m excited to check out both books and see what different things they’ll bring to my practices (of poetry and yoga, and of eventually teaching the two).

Elsewhere in the issue, one little blurb I found interesting described the idea of community-supported yoga, or CSY. Students buy a monthly “share” and in return are guaranteed a spot in a weekly class. The example given is of a teacher in Amherst, who has an 80-member CSY with shares of $30 ($6.00 – 7.50 per class). The idea is similar to buying a class card, but different too: a class card is a business transaction where you’re straight up plunking down money in exchange for classes, and if you don’t use the whole card, you feel like you’ve lost out. I think a CSY, much like a CSA for locally grown veggies, would feel more inspirational, and if I didn’t make it to class, I wouldn’t care as much because I’d feel like I was supporting something valuable in my community. And at that price, you can miss a class or two and not get upset, since a $15 drop-in rate is pretty standard for most yoga classes. I ripped out the article for future reference.

Another little blurb brought my attention to yogitunes.com, which has thousands of yoga-inspired tracks and playlists. Some playlists even benefit specific causes, such as Yoga Aid and Off the Mat, Into the World. Definitely something I want to check out at some point.

 

Yoga Music: Putomayo Presents May 7, 2012

Filed under: music,yoga — R. H. Ward @ 10:52 am
Tags:

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!