Yoga teaches us that our bodies are an instrument. Yoga teaches us to listen to our deep sensory experience. Close your eyes. Listen to the silence. Yoga teaches us to join the universal sound of OM to open our practice. We invite in a deep belly breath and ride the exhale into vocal vibration. It teaches us to open up the channels of sensation and awareness so that there is a constant movement of vibration through our beings.
Yoga teaches us how to experience life on the deepest level. It teaches us to open up to what we don’t know and let things arise out of the moment.
Yoga and music are a way of life. They fit seamlessly together into a 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 asks us to set aside time to allow those songs to come forth – whether through music or any other form of expression. 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. We get curious about what this very moment is. What do our bodies feel like? What is being called forth from our spirit? What is the energy in the room? What song will be born right now? And we 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.
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.” We could spend many lifetimes running from this truth – telling ourselves the story that what we are doing is not legitimate in some way or another. Or that we are not good enough. We would also spend those lifetimes trapped in delusion and unhappiness. Yoga teachings are here to remind us that if we stay true to ourselves, we are on the right path. Whether we are perfect is not the question – it’s whether we are staying present to our journey – to our personal duty.
My journey in the yoga community now is to create a soundscape for yoga practitioners. As a musical presence. A musical force. I have trained my hands, heart and mind for many years to be able to show up now in this way. It has been a lifetime journey for me to have the confident inner knowing that this is my calling. Even though I am no where near perfect. I do not take lightly the fact that people will be subject to my musical whims for 90 minutes. I enter the space gently and with a lot of respect for that. I have a strong sense of duty. My duty is to support you in living out your duty.
I see that reflected in each yoga teacher and student who shares the practice. I see it in each person who is inspired by their own daily lives. These reflections grow my sense of well being and connection. Connecting with people who are answering their own call of duty increases our confidence in each other and in ourselves.
Yoga teaches us about the power of community and support. It teaches us that our inner knowing, inner truth, is much more valuable than our day jobs. That together we strengthen each other on the path of self study, morality, and union. It teaches us that we have purpose and our lives have meaning. And by listening closely to ourselves and the support of the community we can know deeply what we were born to do. I know 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 yourself 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, Asana practice and music. “Avodah” is the Hebrew word for work and also for worship.
Om. Peace. Amen.
Yonat is a refreshing voice in today’s Bay Area independent music scene. Her music is at once soul stirring and soulful. It is a perfect blend of a mature, introspective Carole King and a sassy, young Adele. Her message to “mind your muse, tend your tribe” is a call to each person in the audience to listen to their own inner voice and support each other through all aspects of the human condition. Yonat has completed her inaugural EP “Daybreak” with the guidance of producer Jordan Feinstein of Jordan and The Ritual and Robin Applewood of Naked Soul. It will feature 4 beautifully written songs that shine a light on her undeniable talent to expand beyond boundaries of style and genre. Pick up a copy at this EP release show August 15th at the Lost Church (65 Capp St)!!