Yoga teaches me that my body is an instrument. Yoga teaches me to listen to my deep sensory experience. I close my eyes. I listen to the silence. Yoga teaches me to join the universal sound of OM to open my practice. I invite in a deep belly breath and ride the exhale into vocal vibration. It teaches me to open up the channels of sensation and awareness so that there is a constant movement of vibration through my being. Yoga teaches me how to experience music on the deepest level. It teaches me to open up to what I don't know and let the music arise out of the moment. For me yoga and music are a way of life. They fit seamlessly together as my spiritual practice. One thing is certain - we are all here on this earth for a limited time. And we need to make choices. We need to decide what our priorities are. From moment to moment we can spend our time, energy and resources in one way or another. We all have songs inside of us. Yoga has asked me to set aside time to allow those songs to come forth. When I sit down to play and sing during yoga class, I never know what is going to unfold. It's just like getting on the mat. I get curious about what this very moment is. What does my body feel like? What is being called forth from my spirit? What is the energy in the room? What song will be born right now? And I set forth an intention - just like getting on the mat. Sometimes it's "pulse" or "let go" or "connect" or "flow". But it's also always to be a channel. My intention is to best support the class as whole. I am so honored to be creating a soundscape for yoga practitioners. I do not take lightly the fact that all of these people will be subject to my musical whims for the next 90 minutes. I enter the space gently and with a lot of respect for that. I have a strong sense of duty. I have trained my hands, heart and mind for many years to be able to show up now in this way. As a musical presence. A musical force. It has been a long journey for me to get to the place I am today - where I have the confident inner knowing that this is my calling. Even though I am no where near perfect.
When I was playing for Ai Kubo's class at Yoga Tree Telegraph last month, she opened class with a quote by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, "It is better to perform one's own duties imperfectly than to master the duties of another. By fulfilling the obligations he is born with, a person never comes to grief." I could spend many lifetimes running from this truth - telling myself the story that music is not a real profession. Or that I am not good enough. I would also spend those lifetimes trapped in delusion and unhappiness. I am so glad that yoga teachings are here to remind me that no matter what, I am on the right path. And I get to see that reflected in each yoga teacher and student who enjoy my music during practice. I see it in each shiny person who comes out to hear my band. These reflections grow my sense of well being and connection.
Yoga teaches me about community and support. It teaches me that my inner knowing, my truth, is much more valuable than my day job. That together we strengthen each other on the path of self study, morality, and union. It teaches me that I have purpose. And by listening closely to my self and the support of the community I know deeply that I was born to sit here and strum this guitar and sing. And that this is enough. That nothing more in the world is required of me. But that doing this is absolutely necessary. In Hebrew we have a saying, "Lo alecha hamlacha ligmor v'lo ata ben horin lehibatel mimena". Rabbi Tarfon Says: It is not your responsibility to complete the task, but neither are you free to desist from it (Pirkei Avot 2:21). This quote which I learned as a child points to the community we live in - that there are many people working toward the same goals so none of us has to shoulder the entire burden alone. But in the same vein, we each have a clear responsibility to one another, an accountability not only to myself but to others as well. I am committed to do my part so that you can do yours. Whatever it is. Whatever is being called forth from you - do it. It is vital that we each answer the call of duty. With grace and poise. With pleasure and purpose. Answer the call with persistence. It is so rewarding.
So my worlds come together - Yogic text, Jewish text, "avodah" which is the Hebrew word for work and also for worship. Om. Peace. Amen.
Yonat Piva, MA, LMFT
I write about navigating the challenges of prenatal, postpartum, parenting & relationships. I believe we can inhabit our bodies with a renewed sense of fulfillment in being a human woman.