Calling All Yogis

In the classical 8-limbed tradition of ashtanga yoga as thrown down by my main man Patanjali, the final limb is samadhi. Samadhi is this complete absorption in the moment, absolute bliss. My experience is that this blissed-out feeling of Samadhi isn’t exclusive to yogis living in Himalayan caves or on the high plateaus of Tibet. I’ve heard from many an ordinary human being who’ve related similar experiences, many who’ve never stepped foot onto a yoga mat.

Think back to a time when you were completely wrapped up – so completely focused, concentrating so deeply (dare I say meditating?) – in what you were doing that you lost track of time and place. Call it a ‘runners high’, call it being ‘in the zone’. Call it what you will.

Samadhi happens.

I get lost in music. I’m thinking of particular moments during “Adagio for Strings” by Samuel Barber, “He Shall Purify” by George Frideric Handel, the Beastie Boys concert back in Denver… Music is currently having a strong influence on how we practice yoga in the west.

An awakening took place in my practice and my teaching in 2003 when I attended my first Jivamukti yoga class on Lafayette Street in NYC. Upon completing our opening chants and pushing up into our first down-dog, the play button was pressed and viola – there was sound! We glided through a beautifully fluid sequence of sun salutations, standing poses, headstands and backbends; and we were motivated and inspired by a clever arrangement of tunes that drew from soft sitar and Hindi chants to U2 stadium anthems. Before I could say ‘paschimottanasana’, we were led into a luscious shavasana that was made even more delicious by the drone of subway trains passing underneath the building. I’d gotten lost.

My teacher encourages only the sound of our own beautiful, albeit sometimes off-key, voices as we chant invocations at the beginning and OM together at the end of class. Our asana practice is done to the sound and steady rhythm of our ujjayi breath. Up until ’03 I had no idea that music could lend itself to a practice that is for many so deeply private and quiet. Hatha yoga is a tool used to still the fluctuations of the mind (Yoga Sutra I:3), music has that same power. Combine the two intelligently and you end up something quite extraordinary.

This summer, the state of Oklahoma is in for something quite extraordinary. For the past 7 years, Tom and Angie Green have shown the spotlight onto our humble state through D-Fest; a 2-day music conference and festival that puts emerging artists on the same bill as the big boys. They recognize that music and yoga jive so well together; both allow for enormous creativity, both are capable of bringing about revolution, both can take us to a higher level of consciousness, both are opportunities to lay the groundwork for Samadhi.

So, it makes perfect sense that this year, the 8th Annual D-Fest Music Conference and Festival is partnering with Art of Yoga (OKC), Inner Peace Yoga (Tulsa) and yours truly, The Canebrake (Wagoner, USA) to bring you Oklahoma’s very first D-Fest Yoga Conference and Festival! This calls for a double yee-haw!! For two days in July, 24th and 25th, downtown Tulsa will host our very own home-grown yogis from all across the state showcasing what they love. This will provide an excellent opportunity for new yogis to check out a wide array of styles and teaching methodologies, as well as offering seasoned practitioners and teachers to build on their skills in addition to their relationships with other fellow revolutionaries.

What an opportunity to grow

In the classical 8-limbed tradition of ashtanga yoga as thrown down by my main man Patanjali, the final limb or stage is Samadhi. Samadhi is this complete absorption in the moment, absolute bliss, yep, one with everything. My experience has been that this blessed-out feeling of Samadhi isn’t exclusive solely to yogis living in Himalayan caves or on the high plains of Tibet. I’ve spoken with many a plain, ordinary folk who have related similar experiences and have never stepped onto a yoga mat.

Runners experience the ‘runner’s high’. The same goes for many athletes that get absorbed into the moment, or the zone. Think about a time when you were so completely wrapped up – concentrating deeply (dare I say meditating?), so completely focused – on what you were doing that you lost track of time and place. Samadhi happens.

I get lost in music. I’m reminded of moments during “Adagio for Strings” by Samuel Barber, “He Shall Purify” byGeorge Frideric Handel… a Beastie Boys concert. Music is currently having a strong influence on how we practice yoga in the west. I study with a teacher who utilizes only the sound of our own voices as we chant invocations at the beginning and OM together at the end of a class. Our asana practice is done to the sound and rhythm of our ujjayi breath.

I had an awakening that took my practice and my teaching to a different place when I attended my first Jivamukti Yoga class on Lafayette Street in NYC several years ago. Once we completed our opening chants and intention, we pushed up into our first down-dog. From that moment, the play button was hit and there was music! Our instructor guided us through an amazing and fluid range of movements that drew inspiration from Hindi chants to U2 anthems. Before I knew it, she was leading us into a luscious shavasana that was induced to a deeper state by the drone of the subway trains passing underneath the building. I’d gotten lost. I had no idea that music would lend itself to a practice that is for many so deeply private and quiet. After all, Patanjali states that Yoga is to still the fluctuations of the mind. Music can do that for so many of us.

I enjoy attending classes at other studios when I’m given opportunity to travel and I rarely these days enter a class where music isn’t part of the gig. Music takes

When I was young, I lost myself in The Cure, The Smiths, Agent Orange. These days, I find myself drawn to more uplifting sounds as I blend my practice off the mat with my practice on it.

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