top of page

Yoga reflections

Updated: Jul 16

Today was day 11 of Yoga With Adriene's 30 Days Of Yoga Challenge. I've actually done all 11 days and not skipped any!

Adriene will often say "Take a moment to notice how you feel" at certain points in these vids and the first adjective that pops into my head is Large or Enormous or Expansive. And the second one is Present, Alive, In the room.

Day 10 of the challenge was a bunch of sun salutations in a row. It inspired me to reminisce about the yoga class I took in grad school.

U of M offers -- offered? -- a yoga class called "Yoga For Musicians" through the "Jazz and Contemplative Studies" department, and you could take it twice for credit. So I did, my first two semesters.

It was a very structured class, and reminds me a bit of the structured liturgical services of Episcopalianism, or the structured structure of Great British Bakeoff.

We did multiple sun salutations each day in that class, which is why day 10 made me nostalgic. I've learned that the sun salutation isn't standardized; there are slight variations among practitioners.

I recall two notable qualities of my school's sun salutations. One is that we would stay in downward-facing-dog for five breaths. Our instructor mentioned frequently that this was a resting pose, and I think this frequent remaining in DFD helped us acquire this sensation. I remember at first I thought this was ludicrous, but by the end of the class, I was frequently popping into DFD in practice rooms and whatnot to rest, relax, and rebalance. (Yoga really brought to my attention how much of a difference it makes to send the blood to pool in your head; it can be really refreshing and enlivening.) (Also in this class, we were taught flat-back posture as a way to send the blood back out of our head, whereas Adriene emphasizes the straight spine and neck aspect.)

The second is that at the end of the DFD sequence - as a matter of fact, at the end of any sequence, marking transitions between sequences - our teacher had us take a moment of complete relaxation. I almost remember what he called it. It might have been "Full release" or something? We would be standing in I guess mountain pose at the end of the sun salutation sequence, and then we would release everything - our focus, our breath, and the pose. We wouldn't collapse to the floor like spaghetti noodles, but we would just release everything like a balloon and start standing kind of normally instead of posed. But because we'd just been doing all this asana stuff, the prana would be cavorting around in our bodies like... birds... and we (I) would feel really alert and alive. It was giving our body a moment to incorporate whatever sequence we had done into its orindary state, and punctuating the sequence to be a sequence.

I liked this notion and applied it to different parts of my life. I really liked incorporating it into music. Instead of mindlessly repeating things, giving my brain and body a moment of releasing everything so it could punctuate one part of my learning experience as being truly over, and the next part being truly new. It allows you to make your practicing into little discrete bricks you can build something solid out of, rather than one long softserve chain of ... mortar. (

I also really like it in yoga, and it's ingrained in me as part of my sun salutation sequence especially.

I found that doing sun salutations gave me somatic nostalgia. I found my body doing the graceful libra moves it had enjoyed leaning into as it found fluency in the sun salutation form. It made me smile to remember the process of discovering this fluency and grace, and then for our Aquarius teacher to tell the class how beautiful our sun salutations were becoming, how they were beginning to look like a dance.

His goal was to give us a foundation we could take out of the class. I suppose it worked, because even though it's been a LONG time since that class, and therefore since I've experimented earnestly with yoga, the sun salutation was a set of movements that made my body feel at home and confident.

We also ended every single practice with Savasana. Adriene winds hers down with various resty poses but it isn't Savasana every time. However, they both use music to cue that the end of the practice is coming.

It's so funny how responsive the body is to that music, how excited we get to rest... Your body gets excited like a dog that hears its owner's car pulling up. You know you are about to CHILL on your mat! And it's going to be so much better than regular chilling because your body will feel so alive, so enriched, so engaged, and so ready to rest. It's amazing the way the familiar music people play connects us to that beautiful trust in the future a few seconds ahead of us.

Shavasana is really a magical pose because you are suddenly nothing but receptive. You are physically tired but spiritually sharp. You're somehow noticing everything.

I think that savasana at the end of a yoga practice... or even two thirds of the way in... would be a nice time for someone, for me, to play some Bach. I think people's mind and attention would be primed in a rare way. They wouldn't be distracted. Their attention would be weighed down by the tiredness of their body, but their receptiveness would be alert from all of the sharpening effects of yoga. I think Bach could be really moving in such a situation.

I use Bach as a shorthand for any appropriate music. But I wouldn't trust just any musician to do this. It has to be someone you could trust not to just run through the notes full blast like a freight train.

I'm always trying to think about good contexts for classical music, which is thoughtful and multidimensional. When I say multidimensional, I mean that it wants to create pictures and dialogue in your head, so it doesn't want to share your attention with external pictures and words. Which, for me, makes it inappropriate for a lot of circumstances where I listen to music.

Thinking about it, I guess if you want to really listen attentively to something, just do a yoga sequence before!


Okay, I love this 30-day practice, that's all, bye!

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Happy Leo season! A good use of this blog might be recording what musical activities I do. Last Sunday I put down some tracks on a song with Larry Mitchell. That was super fun and something I'm lookin

bottom of page