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Sound Yoga

Thursday, January 21, 2010

There are many different types of yoga existing in the world today.  Last winter I was intrigued with a brochure advertising a day of "Sound Yoga" with Teresa Doyle ( Teresa is a professional performer/teacher with promotional material stating "My teaching is informed ... by yoga, dance, Shintido, the Alexander Technique and a long time practice of Tai Chi. I think of my teaching style as a gentle, vocal, martial art. Focusing on balance, breath and posture, we engage the whole body in creating sound. Working with the entire body there is a limitless palate of vocal colors and textures to explore."   Living in a community where there is SO MUCH music, I felt compelled to experience this style.

In a regular yoga class we practice breathing into three parts of our body (belly, rib cage and upper chest).  In Sound Yoga, we were instructed to sing into each of these three body parts.  Teresa led us singing vowels, sounds and words from several different languages - all designed to move sound in our bodies.  The sound was then combined with simple movement. The day was incredibly challenging yet I felt very alive at the end.

A month later I found myself at the first annual Winter Folk Camp at YMCA Camp Wanakita (  This was a three day folk music camp with over 70 adults attending to participate in weekend of music.  The camp allows for the participants to learn, perform, jam and attend concerts. My work was to teach two early morning yoga classes to the participants. I was not sure what to do for these musicians as there was a range of abilities and ages, and most participants would be tired after a late Friday evening concert.  As I stood in front of the group at 7:00 am Saturday morning,  it became apparent that they would respond to sound.  I was nervous (not trusting my own voice, ability to carry a tune and lack of experience in leading this exercise) but somehow found the courage to begin.

The first exercise began and to my surprise the entire room was filled with beautiful sound.  They knew how to use their voices; they trusted each other and the musical process and they embraced the simple postures.  It was a lot of fun. These folks who arrived tired and groggy from a late night, left feeling wide awake and full of energy.  

Simple movement combined with the human voice had been very powerful. Obviously there are many ways to feel strong and powerful in our bodies. The second annual Winter Folk Camp is happening again this March 5-8, 2010 at YMCA Camp Wanakita and  we'll be there offering more sound and movement. Hope to see you there.

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