Alive and Well

“We use the body as an instrument, the fibers inside are the strings. So we have to tune those strings to the sound…to get the fine tuning of each fiber.”

-B.K.S.Iyengar-

I have recently been spending time with Sam Snidal who is building a Website called “ALIVE and WELL” where she will post short films exploring the creative process and healing through contemplative practices, yoga, nutrition and the arts. Sam approached me in the summer about doing a small profile focusing on my journey of yoga and piano studies and the interface between yoga and music. So, a few weeks ago a group of us went to Stoney Lake to begin filming a small profile.

We were blessed with a spectacular day of sunshine and cool crisp fall winds as Sam and her film crew filmed me practicing on the cliffs of Stoney Lake. As we sat late in the day with the sun setting over the sparkling lake, it was a wonderful opportunity to articulate my passion for yoga and music. However, I have to admit it is a challenge for me to get my head around being interviewed. I am not sure that there is anything so special about what I am doing in life. I am just a perpetual student!

There is so much more for me to learn, and the journey feels always as if it is just beginning. When I am with my teachers and see what they have accomplished in their lives- to see their skill, their wisdom, their years of devotion- I am so humbled. And so I hope to live a long life- 50 more years to keep practicing, to keep exploring, to integrate and penetrate to the levels, the subtleties, the deeply creative places that they have accessed and realized.

guruji-poseThere is no limit to the artistic journey of yoga and other arts. The greatest example of this is B.K.S. Iyengar who has practiced 70+ years fine tuning all the subtleties of his being through yoga. In an interview B.K.S. Iyengar was asked: “You have said that yoga is a long and arduous path to realization. Could the process be quickened? B.K.S. Iyengar responded:

 

“My friend, it’s a very impertinent question. Today yoga has become like a cheap thing in the market…. Dancers, how much they have to struggle to learn. Musicians, how much they have to work to get the quality, the sensitivity of presentation of resonance. Do you mean to say in Yoga there is no resonance? We use the body as an instrument, the fibers inside are the strings. So we have to tune those strings to the sound…. the element of ether which is nothing but sound. So we have to get the fine tuning of each fiber. Can you make that in a day or two? Ordinary intelligence only scratches the surface, so you have to sharpen your intelligence to go deep inside the body; this is where I devoted my time, that’s why I said I am a devotee.” 

All these artistic paths require an astounding amount of devotion, and I feel there is a deep similarity in the levels of concentration, subtlety of execution, and expansiveness of mind that are required with dance, music, and yoga.

A while back I read an interview with Michael Stone and  Chip Hartranft, who is one of the most respected yoga philosophy scholars. In the interview Chip commented that the concert pianist Maurizio Pollini was “the most accomplished yogi I have ever seen”. That one sentence validated so many of my thoughts on this interface between yoga and music.

What is important to note, is that to my knowledge, Maurizio Pollini has perhaps never practiced yoga as we tend to understand it. So, Chip is saying that the ability to perform at that level of artistry requires integrated immersion on all levels of being akin to a yogi. I have no doubt that musicians attain similar stages of meditative absorption and complete spiritual union, and just as B.K.S. Iyengar has spent time with his practice to delve into the depth of his being, so too, have these great performing artists.

So, I continue to be a student, to tune the strings inside, to sharpen the intelligence of the body, to flow with the wind and ether of sound, to devote myself to the miraculous journey of being ALIVE and WELL.

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