“Everything in life is vibration.” – Albert Einstein
“If you want to know the secrets of the universe think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” – Nikolai Tesla
“The heart is the hub of all sacred places. Go there and roam.” – Bhagavan Nityananda
When I began my asana practice I would come to the end and feel overwhelmed with familiar sensations. My body, mind and heart were intoxicated with a mix of exhaustion, exhilaration, and energy. I was starting to open and release physical and emotional congestion, and quickly recalled my first encounter with similar emotions. Beginning in 1997 on dance floors across the country, I dove heart-first into the music of Phish. Without knowing it, my yoga practice had begun.
While Wanderlusters need no introduction to the power and connections between music and yoga, these consciousness-raising practices are similar creative expressions of our intrinsic longing to feel into and beyond our day-to-day lives. We dance and practice to more fully explore ourselves. We have to roam through the visceral, bone-deep experience of our joy, fear, passion, and anxiety. The practices of yoga and music continuously beckon us to come back for more, asking us to remain curious in the ever-expanding study of the space behind our eyelids, inside our body and deep within the heart.
While the practice of kirtan holds a special place in my heart, my relationship with secular music has been most inspirational and healing. The popular and underground music that accompanies seismic shifts in my perspective and propels the rumbling within my heart most often does not include Sanskrit or the beautiful sounds of the harmonium. Rather the pop melodies, psychedelic improvisation and electronic grooves of modern music teach me about my inner life and inspire me to live with relentless passion.
In 2010 I decided to combine aligned vinyasa yoga with this non-traditional yoga music. I chose iconic, popular artists not simply for sheer enjoyment but to curiously explore the philosophical connections between the two. My first creation was Surrender to the Flow: Phish Yoga and since, this class has expanded to include six teachers nationwide and donates all its proceeds to Street Yoga and The Mockingbird Foundation. I then created thematic vinyasa classes with live DJ mixes set to the inspiration and power of Pink Floyd, Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, and Madonna.
Carefully curated music and yoga classes can resonate at subterranean levels of our being because music, literally, lives inside us. Scientists like Tesla and Einstein have long described the elemental force of the universe as a vitalizing, energetic pulse. The yogis called this throb spanda and the experience of feeling music amplifies our connection to it.
Just as yoga practice draws our attention toward the inner experience of prana, the combination of modern music and yoga heightens this familiarity by triggering memory and nostalgia long held within the tissues of our body. It is my hope that these classes and our inspired exploration of music, yoga, and our inner world is a fruitful journey. Dive in, get lost and find your way home.
Chris Calarco is a yoga instructor in Portland, Oregon with a deep passion for the practices of music and yoga. Rooted in the tradition of Anusara, Chris has studied extensively in Vinyasa and Iyengar. He runs music and yoga workshops nationwide including classes centered on the music of Phish, Michael Jackson, Motown/Soul, Pink Floyd, and Madonna. Check out his Facebook, website, and upcoming event info.