Saturday, April 17, 2010


I didn’t get around to doing my yoga practice until the afternoon. YogaDownload announced a new class, Gentle Hatha #4 and since I’m a big fan of this series, I downloaded all four time formats immediately. I did the 30 minute version. It wasn’t bad, but I prefer some of Jackie’s other classes. I also found the music intrusive (this isn’t always the case - occasionally, Yoga Download is able to strike the right balance and the music enhances the practice).

Perhaps I’ll enjoy the longer versions more. Or maybe I was just in a dour mood (always a possibility, during my Lady’s). It felt good to get on the mat though, and weird to be practising so late in the day. I’ve become very accustomed to early-morning practices.


This weekend, I’m attending workshops with local teachers (next weekend, I’ll get a break, but I’m doing a couple more the following weekend).

This afternoon, it was a Kirtan/Chanting workshop with the leader of a Kirtan band. I’ve been studying yoga philosophy, chanting, and Shruti Box with her for a couple of years. I find that I don’t integrate chanting into my classes nearly enough. I was hoping that this instruction in Kirtan (call and response chanting) would help me develop confidence to teach chanting to my students.

The workshop was actually very comprehensive. Not only did it cover the ins and outs of call-and-response - we explored the musicality of Kirtan: pacing, volume, improvisation and audience dynamics. Even with a background in music, I found this incredibly complex. At the end of the workshop, we split into groups and prepared variations on the original chant which we then ‘taught’ to the other group through a Kirtan.

It wasn’t easy! I actually messed up our chant and, of course, my ‘audience’ got it wrong along with me, so I corrected myself and they followed along with my correction! When my group finished, I exclaimed: “That’s harder than teaching a yoga class!” And it is! When you screw up, everyone else screws up right along with you. Our instructor was acting as the percussionist and she and I totally got our wires crossed with the pacing too (I wanted to speed things up, she pulled back).

It gave me deeper appreciation for Kirtans and the musicians who offer them. It was difficult enough to lead my small ‘band’ and read the audience’s response. I can’t imagine what this would be like with a percussionist, keyboardist, guitarist, etc. AND a huge live audience of people, many of whom have never attended a ‘call and response’ performance. Eek!

For the curious, here's a YouTube clip of a Shruti Box. This one looks very similar to my MKS:


Sometime on Friday, I kind of ‘let go’ of any expectations around my birthday. Due to the Big Life Change, I had put off planning anything and it was too hard to pull anything together at the last minute.

So on Friday, I worked my regular shift at the soup kitchen and brought cupcakes for everyone (they were a hit!). I met up with a good friend for dessert, but I was too tired to go dancing.

This evening after the workshop, I headed out to meet a few friends for dinner, thinking I might see one or two of my favourite people and that would be fine. Imagine my delight when pretty much everyone I wanted to see was there! It was deeply moving to connect with so many old friends and embrace a community of people I had lost touch with over the past year. I had a fabulous vegetarian meal, got free dessert (and you know how I love my dessert!) and I danced for hours afterwards with my buddies.

Best. Birthday. EVER!!!!


Emma said...

Shruti Box?

Kaivalya said...

Good question! I've added a YouTube clip to the post which demonstrates a Shruti Box in action.

Emma said...

it's like a harmonium... ish. i really like :)