yoga beyond the black sun

Okay, so here’s a little secret for y’all: I can’t stand “yoga music.” But I like music and sometimes, depending on my mood, I like practicing yoga to music. But it has to be the right music, and I’m more likely to practice to something like Montréaler Tim Hecker or 70s space rockers Hawkwind than to some yoga toones CD.

Anyway, there’s this studio here in Montréal that does yoga+music properly (in my books). Here’s a little piece of “yoga journalism” that I published in Hour about a concert/workshop happening this weekend:

If asked to describe the sounds of a yoga class, you might list the sound of the teacher’s voice, breathing and the occasional grunt or popping joint, but generally things are pretty quiet. When there is music, it tends to be classical Indian, kirtan (devotional music, typified by American singers such as Krishna Das) or downbeat electronica.

Naada, a new yoga studio in Mile End, stretches the concept of how yoga and music can work together. The studio (which holds weekly classes accompanied by live musicians) will be hosting former Old Time Relijun member Arrington de Dionyso for a Saturday evening performance and Sunday afternoon workshop.

“His approach to music reflects the musical focus of the studio,” says Jason Sharp, who co-founded Naada with his wife, yoga teacher and dancer Elizabeth Emberly. “He creates a deep listening experience.”

The Olympia, Washington-based de Dionyso is known to “push the envelope between musicality and pure energy, between shamanic ecstasy and lunacy.” He plays the bass clarinet and jaw harps, uses his voice as instrument, and is inspired by shamanism and Tuvan throat singing. His afternoon workshop focuses on unleashing the voice, as he teaches participants techniques to release vocal inhibitions and perform for each other.

This event is the third “volume” in Naada’s concert series, in which the studio hosts experimental and improvisational musicians – previous concerts have seen Sam Shalabi, Ariel Engle, Hrair Hratchian and Omar Dewachi bring their unique sounds into a space usually reserved for downward dogs and sun salutations.

“This is the kind of music that is actually better suited for a yoga studio, rather than a conventional venue,” says Sharp. “The environment is concentrated, almost meditative. Nobody is talking or drinking – the focus is on the experience of the music.”

The meditative sound experience is not limited to evening performances. Regular daily classes pair yoga posture routines, taught by Emberly, with drone soundscapes created by Sharp.

Arrington de Dionyso
Concert, Sept. 26, 8 p.m.
Unleash the Voice Workshop, Sept. 27

Naada Yoga, 5540 Casgrain Ave.
514-510-3274 for tickets or to register

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  1. That’s very interesting, girlwarrior, especially to someone like myself who plays flamenco guitar, which originally started as an accompaniment to flamenco song and dance.

    Thanks for sharing this with us.

    Bob Weisenberg

  2. “Really great class, but i just hated the music,” i say to my husband each time i come home from and put away my mat. i really do not enjoy music that, to me, sounds like muzak or overly religious or (sigh) both. i tried 4 or 5 selections of Arrington de Dionyso’s music and, alas, find it a bit too dissonant…however! keep up the search for music to do dandasana by and share them with us…i look forward to it and so does my ipod…

    • Interesting observation, delta! Actually, my understanding is that de Dionyso’s music isn’t necessarily intended for an asana practice. At the concert, people will just be sitting around listening, and at the workshop, they’ll be doing voice exercises. I didn’t even consider the possibility of doing asanas to this music. But it’s cool that you gave it a try, and saw how you responded to it. Thanks!

  3. I’m never bothered by the typical yoga music in yoga classes…though I gotta say, a friend gave me a CD of it recently, and I forced my way through it at home just once before putting it away. As I’ve said on my blog at least once, I’m a Miles and Coltrane kinda yogi–all time favorite albums to practice to are Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way and John Coltrane’s Love Supreme, though I’ve also been know to use long trippy tracks by Sonic Youth and the Grateful Dead (I’d place Hawkwind somewhere in between those two, though I don’t currently have any of their music…). Recently I’ve also heard some stuff in yoga classes taught by some hip young teachers that seem to be very out there (in a good way) yoga hip-hop…really need to find out who’s making that stuff…

  4. oohh! coltrane and davis…what a great idea, cynic!