Tag Archives: music

Wanderlust 2011 Festival: California AND Vermont!

Wanderlust 2011
Wanderlust 2011

I was super bummed to miss Wanderlust last year — Schuyler Grant’s yoga-plus-music festival was a genius idea. And the lineup was rock solid on both fronts: teachers included Shiva Rea, Seane Corn, and Doug Swenson, while musicians included Moby, Brazilian Girls, and Pretty Lights. So nice to see a yoga event that’s not just world music!

So I am really excited to hear that there are TWO Wanderlust Festivals this year. Again in Lake Tahoe, July 28–31, but also in Vermont, June 23–26. So you could even be a total groupie and go to both! (If you do, talk to me about being a remote blogger…)

Check out the official site for more information as it arrives.

Thank Goodness for the Little Things

I’ve been wearing black this week, grieving the death of summer. And my practice; I’ve now got wrist pain to match my tricky hips. Le sigh. I’d had a couple weeks to rest it; I’d been running and biking to build up some strength. I finally realized I needed to ask a yoga teacher for some advice; it was not getting any better on its own.

On Friday some early plans fell through, so I dropped into Abhaya before dinner. It was their Dub Vibe class: slow, flowing Anusara, with a live DJ spinning dub (reggae) in the back of the room. Sheila Donnelly was subbing for Tara, and knew just as much about anatomy. Her tips for my wrists:

  • Wrist pain in yoga usually means you’re putting too much weight in the heel of the hand.
  • Work on lifting the heels of the hands (in Down Dog and similar poses). You should be able to fit a couple pencils under the back of the palm.
  • To strengthen the wrists, practice on “ridge tops,” for short periods: lift the heels of the hands about three inches, until the weight is entirely in the bottom knuckles of the fingers. Or lift all the way onto your fingertips.
  • Most people lean weight towards the outsides of the hands; make sure the weight’s to the inner sides of the hands. The wrist should NOT be rotating outward.

So now I have some answers, some assignments. So grateful. On with class.

I was in a strange mood; things were hitting me very poignantly. I was feeling injured, and old; stymied and slow. But the class, and the music, made waves. Seven students sprawled across the space. One had brought her baby; it chirped, and grabbed its feet. We chanted, and focused, and saluted the setting sun. The pace was kind; the teacher was calm. DJ Ceiba gave us “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” The pressure cloud started to lift. We helped each other jump into Handstand; I knew I couldn’t do it, but then all of the sudden I was there. My partner jumped right up, and stuck it; he’s 75 years old. I felt less old :) I felt a sense of perspective, or scale. We found relaxation for the night.

This shit really works, huh?

Harmonic Singing by and with David Sykes

dhathc1The 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.

Preview the music on CD Baby

Watch a performance on YouTube

Tickets are $35. All proceeds go to benefit the Breathing Project’s teacher training scholarship fund. There’s also a workshop with David Sykes the next day (Halloween) from 6-9pm.

9 Questions with Yogoer

What are you looking at?
What are you looking at?

Ahoy people! Someone nice has gone and interviewed me. What are the hidden gems of the NYC yoga scene? What’s the best music for yoga practice? How awesome is the Yogoer iPhone app? I know these are the questions keeping you up at night. So go ahead and read the full interview on MindBodyGreen!

Q & A with Erica Heinz of Yogoer: Hidden Gems of NYC Yoga, Her Favorite Yoga Music, iPhone App, and More!

You can spend quite a while there, reading inspiring interviews and illuminating overviews. MindBodyGreen is a great new digest of healthy living content. I just learned The 7 P’s of Goal Setting! Plus, you can vote up any news article, or submit one yourself. Enjoy!

Rock Star Mamma?

Yesterday was one of those days when a mom comes close to going crazy and can’t wait for 5 o’clock just to have a glass of wine for sanity purposes.  As I washed off the dog poop that my son stepped in, I thought, “Am I seriously washing off disgusting, wet, dog poop in my kitchen sink?”  I proceed to pick up the rest of the poop in the backyard so that he can run around freely with the garden hose in his diaper (he doesn’t know the difference, and to him, it could be the South of France).  Afterwards, I raked the leaves on the side of the house in the sweltering heat and thought, “How is this fun?”  Then, the plumber bangs on the door just as I got my little man to go down for a nap.  As I opened the door to this this man with a look of rage, I wondered if I had thrown my sanity out the window.  The poor guy didn’t know he was coming to fix the toilet at Miss Hannigan’s.

I felt trapped in this house and in this neighborhood.  I wanted to scream, “Get me out!  Get me back to New York City,” but was this my life now?  Was this my destiny – waiting for plumbers and singing Knick Knack Patty Wack all day?  I wondered if my brain was melting or still intact.

By the time my husband came home to take me to the concert that I had been anticipating for months, I was exhausted and not in the finest of moods.  How could he understand?  He just finished a day of Internet surfing, coffee talk, and engaging business calls, where he actually used his brain.  He must have wondered where his wife went.  He was hoping to take her to see Coldplay, not this crazy girl.

That night as I watched Chris Martin maniacally run across the stage singing, “I know St. Peter won’t call my name,” from the popular song Viva La Vida.  I thought to myself, “The life of a rock star – what fun.  He is not picking up poop and waiting for plumbers all day.”

Then, I had a revelation – my son thinks I’m Coldplay!  We have a daily tradition – I turn on Viva La Vida, he’ll get a big grin on his face and hold out his arms so I’ll pick him up and we dance.  He thinks I’m a rock star as I play my air guitar and sing to him.  He doesn’t know that I’m actually not Chris Martin!  In that moment, I realized the beauty of a child and how my son means everything to me.  I realized that being a mother is the most important role that I will ever have and that there is honor in picking up poop and singing Knick Knack Patty Wack for your biggest fan.

I wondered off yoga talk today, but these are the thoughts of a Yoga Mamma.  I need my practice more than ever today and I am headed to it right now.  I intend to put my hands together, breathe and find the peace and beauty in my current life role as mother.


Wanderlust Yoga/Music Festival

Wanderlust Festival
Wanderlust Festival

Ok, I was AWOL for a few days, but I’m back. With some exciting updates coming soon.

Firstly: if you have not yet locked up your summer, there’s a cool festival happening near San Francisco July 24–26. Wanderlust is a “music and lifestyle retreat” — meaning the headliners include both musicians and yoga teachers. Looks like more indie rock than kirtan:

  • Michael Franti & Spearhead (ok, funk)
  • Spoon
  • Andrew Bird
  • Mates of State
  • Kaki King (amazing guitarist)
  • Broken Social Scene (some of my favorite yoga music)
  • Girl Talk (really??? pretty vulgar stuff!)

And some major yoga personalities as well:

  • John Friend, Anusara (the originator)
  • Shiva Rea, Prana Flow
  • Elena Brower, Anusara (quite a celebrity here in NYC)
  • Schuyler Grant, Kula Flow (my current practice development)
  • Doug Swenson, Ashtanga
  • Duncan Wong, Yogic Arts (have heard his classes are insane)
  • Jason & Jenny, AcroYoga (the co-founders)

Too bad I’m locked up on the East Coast for now. I’ve been listening to some of the tracks on the web site and am blissing out.

More updates to come…

Focus Pocus

Well, I’m back in the city again. A few days in Florida with my mom filled me up on oranges (and blues and greens). I feel sunny inside, even if it’s not so much outside.

With the return to city life came the return to Twitter, CNN, texting, and emails. (I could have continued them through my trip, but chose to take a fairly full break.) And, happily, the Times, which today published a great article on the science of concentration. We know we’re living in the Age of Distraction; Winifred Gallagher wrote Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life to refocus our attention on our control of the matter: “…your choices determine your experience, just as William James said.” (‘My experience is what I agree to attend to.’)

It’s like that old Ann Landers advice: no one can take advantage of you unless you let them. We can only be distracted by incessant emails if we choose to obsessively check them, or keep that notifier on. We can choose to wake up and run to our devices, or we can choose to first gather our thoughts at another table.

But what about those taxi rides / offices / airports / companions full of noise and distractions, out of our control?

Ms. Gallagher advocates meditation to increase your focus, but she says there are also simpler ways to put the lessons of attention researchers to use. Once she learned how hard it was for the brain to avoid paying attention to sounds, particularly other people’s voices, she began carrying ear plugs with her. When you’re trapped in a noisy subway car or a taxi with a TV that won’t turn off, she says you have to build your own “stimulus shelter.”

And a bit of practical advice:

She recommends starting your work day concentrating on your most important task for 90 minutes. At that point your prefrontal cortex probably needs a rest, and you can answer e-mail, return phone calls and sip caffeine (which does help attention) before focusing again. But until that first break, don’t get distracted by anything else, because it can take the brain 20 minutes to do the equivalent of rebooting after an interruption.

The last interesting takeaway was about scientists’ use of rhythmic light to assist our concentration. Regular, tiny pulses of light can create gamma waves in the brain, which are associated with focus and perception. This direct synchronization of neurons is interesting — I’ll be sure to consider strobe lights for my office — but I’m surprised the article did not mention music, a much more accessible assistant. Electronic music, with its lack of narrative and focus on atmosphere, does a great job of consolidating the fluctuations of the mind. (I posted a few favorite albums for yoga last month.) As background music, it’s often better than silence for concentration. There are even albums like “The Brainwave Suite” that promise to create alpha, theta, or delta brain waves with various ambient soundtracks. (I don’t know why they left out gamma.)

So, hopefully we can all learn to focus amid the symphony of modern life a bit better. Or we can stay on our smart phones, walking straight into traffic, and wait for Darwin to weed us out.

5 Best Albums for Yoga Practice

Last night I tried to practice yoga with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. It was a rainy day and I needed some energy. Instead it pushed me into listening mode, I just lay on the floor enjoying the album for a while, until I finally got up and practiced in silence.

So, today I decided to share my five fail-safe albums for yoga practice. I exclude kirtan from this list; if it’s any good it makes me want to sing to a distracting extent. In fact, anything with words is excluded. I like practice music to soothe and smooth any rough moods, and add an uplifting vibe. I’d call my favorite genre “symphonic electronic” — complex abstract music. These are albums you can play straight through without skipping a song.

  1. Ratatat, self-titled. My all-time favorite album, I have yet to get tired of this thing. Two guys, a million effects, gorgeous textures and rhythms. It made the rounds of all the coffee houses a few years ago, and is perfect for bright, focused energy. It makes me so happy.
  2. Brian Eno, Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks. The most famous ambient album? Apparently Eno was hit by a taxi, and couldn’t stand any music while recuperating in the hospital. So he invented ambient. This album is an opiate, and the track “An Ending (Ascent)” is pretty perfect. Quiet and soothing.
  3. Four Tet, Rounds. A beautiful album by Kieran Hebden from Fridge (another nice electronic group). Blissful and romantic; drum samples and heartbeats underlay enchanting melodies. Perfect mix tape fodder.
  4. Bibio, Fi. A quirky mix of finger-picking, reverb, and synths. The soundtrack to a flashback to childhood. Dreamy and gentle.
  5. Dub Specialists, Dub. This will have to represent the whole genre of reggae, the best morning music ever. It makes you want to move, without any stress. Classic and groovy, this album chills me ouuuuuuuut.

All these artists have more recent albums out, I have not kept up 100%. I also have to mention Beirut for sheer heart, if they would put out an instrumental album I would die.

Any favorite practice albums you want to share? Comment away!

Tuvan Throat Singing

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.