For you chant-lovers out there: Om Factory has a special guest this Saturday.
At the age of six, Gaura Vani left the US to study sacred music in a gurukula or temple school in the timeless town of Vrindavan, India. He learned ancient prayers in Sanskrit and Bengali and to sing and play ethnic instruments like the harmonium and mrdanga. 25 years later, he continues to share the magic he received and performs extensively throughout the world with As Kindred Spirits, his ensemble of musicians, dancers, and performers.
Kirtan with Gaura Vani, Ananta Govinda Das & Acyuta Gopi Dasi
Saturday, April 16, 7:30-10:30pm
Om Factory Yoga Center
265 West 37 Street, 17th Floor
firstname.lastname@example.org – 212 616 8662
For the physically inclined, Stephen Cheng leads his 3-hour “Dharma-Mittra-inspired” Vinyasa class near Union Square. I had a great time in December; only some last-minute volunteering is keeping me away.
For the devotional minds, there’s the opening of Dharma Yoga Brooklyn, on 6th Ave in Park Slope. Chanting and a silent auction from 11am–9pm.
The Breathing Project is hosting David Sykes and his Harmonic Choir, “the world’s leading overtone choir,” this Friday, October 30 at 7:30pm. What is harmonic singing? From the website:
Harmonic Chant is part of a 14-billion year old tradition — the harmonic presence illuminating every nook and cranny of the cosmic space. Those subtle waves of photonal warmth, the cosmic background radiation, still radiate across the sky in every direction, in waves as wide as 2 full moons.
“David Hykes’s music is haunting and transporting. It takes you some place like the Sahara desert, somewhere completely otherworldly. It transports you to the Ancient Time.
While searching for music for my film ‘Travellers and Magicians,’ I listened to so much music. But I always came back to David’s. From the moment I heard it, there was no doubt.” — Revered incarnate Tibetan lama Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
It’s not quite chanting, not quite ambient techno. It’s sure to vibrate your brain in a million directions. If you’ve never heard this type of thing, it’s worth experiencing in person.
Dharma Mittra, the inimitable (or eminently imitable) senior teacher, just emailed these tips for the new year:
Spend time Meditating. Meditation is unbroken concentration and the most effective type is self-reflection. Spend at least 15 minutes meditating every morning.
Get serious about your practice! One must get serious and simply attending class is not enough. Spend at least 15 minutes each morning doing Asana and focus on the main ones: Headstand, Shoulderstand, Plow, Fish and Cobra.
Drink lots of green juices and remember the first Yama, Ahimsa. As long as you are involved with violence, your meditation will go nowhere.
Understand the five subtle bodies or sheathes so that you can commence negating them at once.
How you begin something is of great significance. If you begin the New Year with a big mug of coffee, it sets the wrong tone for the entire year to come. Begin 2009 committed to the attainment of Self-Knowledge.
Outside of the three main texts, The Bhagavad Gita, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and Yoga Padipika, read and study Swami Sivananda’s Self-Knowledge as it contains all the answers.
Dedicate the fruit of all action and be nice to everyone. OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.
I found them inspiring and hope you do too. Lots of good ways to start the new year here. I did my 15 minutes of meditation and asana this morning; it was great to be reminded that it’s not how much you practice, but how regularly, and that the basic principles are the most important achievements.
If you’re ever in New York for New Year’s, I highly recommend Dharma’s New Year’s Eve classes. The vibe is intense and uplifting. He did not do the midnight celebration last night, but taught his regular 6pm Asana and 7:30pm Meditation/Psychic Development. The former is an open-level vinyasa class, the latter is chants and breathing exercises to purify and strengthen the mind. Both began with Dharma talks that really cleared my mind. (And then my evening was free to see Blonde Redhead at Terminal 5!) The center is chanting 108 Hanuman Chalisas all day today, so if you’re near 23rd and 3rd drop by for a little spiritual high.
If you are interested in the range of sounds and vibrations the human body can make (I’ve always loved opera for that reason), check out Alash at Barbes in Brooklyn tomorrow. I heard them last night at a friend’s party, and they’re supposedly up for a Grammy? They do overtone singing on top of traditional Tuvan folk music. That’s between Mongolia and Siberia.
Here’s a clip, although like opera I think it’s only great in person. You can hear the throat singing around 0:53.
POSTSCRIPT: The show was REALLY amazing, and their manager shared a lot of interesting stories and background. They are indeed up for 2 Grammys with Bela Fleck — they are on his Christmas album Jingle All The Way.
Tonight it was Prana Yoga at Greenhouse. Strange class — we chanted a chakramantra 1–3 times at the beginning of each pose. As in “stretch your arm out and down into Triangle, exhaling ‘Lam Lam Lam’ as you go.” Each pose is supposed to activate a chakra along the spine, so I assume we were saying the mantras corresponding to the chakra activated. (For more information, look up “seed mantras.”) I read yesterday (in Jill Camera’s Yoga Fan) that there are basic correlations, I hope I remember them correctly:
Standing Poses activate the Root Chakra
Forward Bends activate the Sacral Chakra
Twists activate the Navel Chakra
Back Bends activate the Heart Chakra
Arm Balances activate the Throat Chakra
Balance Poses activate the Third Eye
Inversions activate the Crown Chakra
From tail to skull, the chakramantras are Lam, Vam, Ram, Yam, Ham, Om, Om. Sound vibration is also supposed to help your glands — according to Beth Beigler they prefer gentle touch, like the landing of a fly — so the chanting could also help the neuroendocrine system.
In any case, I had a very deep final relaxation. Shana, subbing for Julianna, had us hold each pose for 7-8 breaths, and only then do the chanting, so it was a slow, muscle-burning class at times.