Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Upcoming workshops at Studio Serenity

September 30th - Yoga Nidra with Katja
October 2nd - Ashtanga workshop with Para
October 16th - Home practice workshop with me

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Human music

When you tune a guitar, the most important thing is not the absolute pitch of the strings but their relation to each other. So you hold the fifth fret of the lowest string, and then pluck the next-highest string. The two notes should be the same. Then you do the same for the next-highest string and the next-next highest, and so forth. Eventually, the whole guitar is in tune with itself, each string vibrating in harmonic proportion to the next. At that point lives in the guitar the potential for all the music that exists in the universe.

Sometimes, though, when you're tuning, it doesn't quite work out. The top string doesn't match the bottom string, so you twiddle the knob. Then it's higher, so you twiddle the knob back again. Then it's lower. Twiddle, twiddle. At a certain point you've scrutinized the sounds so many times you're not even sure which string is higher or lower, you just know that they're different. It's as though some combination of heat, humidity, and sheer molecular dissatisfaction is making that tuning knob slither back and forth defiantly past its sweet spot.

Eventually, perhaps, you give up, do your best, and move on to the next string. But now the guitar is out of tune and all your little mistakes snowball, the strings' vibrations careening around like balls on a pool table, and a hesitant strum across the belly of the instrument yields a jangly caterwaul, as if you were scraping your fingernails across a dying cat.

Human moods are a bit like that. After being played for a while - or, simply sitting still through the changing weather - all our little tuning knobs slip to one side or the other, and we begin to jangle. At that point, if we want to make any music at all, it's necessary to take a little time and get back into tune. If our tuning knobs are a bit sticky, perhaps it's necessary to remove them, clean them, and put the instrument back together. This may be quite time consuming, but what's the alternative, if we want music and not a jangle?

Hatha yoga is one of the most effective ways I've found so far to tune a human guitar. Of course, sometimes physical yoga isn't what's called for. The best tuning method may instead be sitting meditation, mantra chanting, a hot bath, a nourishing meal, a clarifying conversation with a loved one, the fulfillment of a procrastinated-on duty, or perhaps a stroll through a cemetary. Whatever shape it takes, though, this tuning process is one of the most important things we can learn as human beings, to live our lives melodiously.

I went to an Indian sitar concert where the instruments were so delicate, subtle, and finely pitched that the musicians re-tuned them in between each half-hour raga. But these sitars were just made of wood, glue and string. Our human instruments are made of body, mind, and spirit. Is our tuning any less important, for the kind of music we'd like to play?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hurricane Katrina benefit at Studio Serenity, 9/9

Hurricane 'Katrina' Benefit: Heart-Opening Yoga

After the storm that has wreaked havoc on so many homeless refugees in the New Orleans area, we are all reminded of our lucky lives and the power that each of us has to directly reach out and help others. This disaster has created a very real need and the donations from this charity event will go directly towards providing food, shelter, and medical services to the people stricken by Hurricane Katrina.
Join Zoe Konovalov for a 90-minute yoga practice where we will also provide handouts and contacts for supporting and volunteering with the Red Cross and other disaster relief agencies.
We will begin with a flowing warm-up practice, and move towards more restorative poses with a focus on stretching the chest and shoulders to open the heart and release our wellsprings of compassion. The class will finish with some meditations on gratitude.

Hurricane 'Katrina' Benefit: Heart-Opening Yoga

Teacher: Zoe Konovalov

When: Friday Sept 09, 2005
Where: Studio Serenity, 2469 18th St NW
(202) 491-4151
Time: 7:30-9:00
Cost: $20 donation will go to Red Cross efforts to aid disaster victims

Kindly pre-register by sending an email to workshop@studioserenity.com or by signing up at the studio. Namaste.