Sound Matters podcast explores animals and music -- hear about cicada and prairie dog languages and wonder, do birds sing for pleasure?
When choosing savasana songs, it is important to remember the purpose of savasana. Sometimes, teachers and students refer to savasana as “relaxation” pose. This is true, but relaxation means something much more than adult nap time when practicing savasana, which literally means “the seat of the corpse.” It represents letting go of the physical body and individualistic mind.
As teachers we are trying to facilitate an experience of letting go, of relaxing the clinging to individual consciousness and allowing for a feeling of expansion into universal consciousness.
Choosing songs that have English lyrics (or native language lyrics, if you are teaching in another country) keep students swirling around in their conscious mind; in the story of their day, in their particular consciousness. Whereas choosing songs with either Sanskrit lyrics or no lyrics at all, allows students to drop the personal narrative and potentially relax into pure expansive awareness.
Another pitfall of songs with English lyrics is that many popular songs are recognizable to your students, and songs may have an emotional or personal anchor. The students most likely already have some kind of association with the song which is going to automatically bring them into that memory of the ex-boyfriend, or the fight with their mother, or some other such personal story.
Rhythm can also be a distraction that keeps students from fully relaxing. Any songs that have percussion, or any beat that’s much more than a heartbeat, is very energizing. Remember, beats are the part of the song that make us want to MOVE. Beats in a savasana song are very energizing (rajasic) and can again derail the process of relaxation. In one of the suggested tracks below, the beat sounds a bit like a heartbeat, which is about the maximum before it becomes a distraction rather than an aid.
To me, a perfect song is also approximately 10 minutes long. If I’m teaching a Jivamukti Open Level class, it keeps me honest about how much time I’ve allowed for savasana. And since I don’t have to change the song or turn it off, I can make my way around to the maximum number of students while minimizing walking back and forth to the stereo.
When in doubt, listen to the full track you’ve chosen, in savasana or in a meditation seat and tune into what the sounds bring up emotionally, physically, spiritually, and intellectually. Does the song bring about the experience you are trying to facilitate?
1. SHARON GANNON - Om Shanti
Obviously. The cascading and rolling “om shantis” are uplifting and relaxing at the same time. Sharon’s angelic voice makes this a very sattvic/light lullaby of a savasana song. Students always leave relaxed and happy.
2. SHEILA CHANDRA - ABoneCroneDrone 4
Sheila Chandra is a master of indian vocals. Any one of the tracks from “ABoneCroneDrone” can be used at the end of class. I particularly like track 4.
3. MERCEDES BAHLEDA - Heart Sutra
Unfortunately, this track is pretty much only available on the actual album, but you can preview it and buy it via the link below. The album is very much worth buying in its entirety, not in the least for this track alone. Mercedes gorgeously recites the Buddha’s Heart Sutra. The central mantra from the Heart Sutra is, “Gate Gate Paragate Parasangate Bodhi Swaha.” This mantra in itself is about letting go into the groundlessness of being, and sums up the practice of savasana.
4. MICHAEL HEWETT - Being in Dreaming
Michael Hewett is a master musician and yogi. His savasana track, Being in Dreaming layers a plucked guitar pattern over undulating waves of sustained notes and the swells of vibratory pulsation. This song achieves the perfect balance of remaining on the current of conscious awareness while letting go into blissful relaxation.
5. MARCONI - Weightless
This track has actually been studied, by scientists, who concluded that it was “the most relaxing song ever.” If you’re listening over the computer, you might not notice the ‘beat.’ When you listen to it over a high quality stereo or in a classroom PA system, you’ll hear a very deep, slow beat that almost sounds like a heartbeat in the song. This is my ONE exception to the “no beats” rule. Which as you can tell by how subtle this beat is, really is a “no beats” rule!
There is something so beautifully haunting about the hallow harmonic tones that the hang drum produces. I've always loved the sound of these beautiful tonal percussion instruments, which is why I was so delighted to welcome James Winstanley and Daniel Waples of The Hang Drum Project to play in the friday night class at Jivamukti Yoga School.
The Hang Drum Project just released their brand new album, "Banyan Tree", available on Band Camp: http://thehangdrumproject.bandcamp.com/album/banyan
Moments before class, Stephanie and I stole away into a corner of Jivamukti Yoga School to record one of my favorite songs, "The Human Struggle."
This original song by Stephanie's band, Avidya & The Kleshas expands the Buddhist mantra, gate gate paragate parasangate bohdi swaha which means something like "gone, gone, real gone, beyond the most gone. wisdom arises only once all attachments are gone." Or, to quote the boddhisattva Tyler Durden, "its only once you've lost everything that you're free to do anything." Only once we are beyond attachment and aversion, can liberation from suffering arise.
Stephanie's gorgeous and heartfelt lyrics are about waking up from suffering and realizing both the preciousness of this breath, this life. All the while acknowledging the very real trappings of the suffering that arises from attachment and aversion.
Watch the video, listen to the song, check out http://avidyaandthekleshas.com/
Honored to have been asked to be one of the teachers launching this cool new class format at Equinox on October 1st. The concept was created by teacher and music producer, Derek Beres.
The class includes a playful, challenging, vinyasa which is enhanced with music that supports the physical and emotional content of the yoga class... for example, using energetic music that makes our bodies want to move during a strong sequence, and using music for meditation as well.
I'll be teaching the format at Equinox NYC starting October 1st at the following times:
7:40pm-8:40pm -- Greenwhich Ave
12:45pm-1:45pm -- Brooklyn Heights
Here's a really nice article that was written on the class format: