The sweetness of nāda yoga


Recently I haven’t felt much like moving. It’s the time of year maybe. English winters are so terribly dreary; not cold enough, not dark enough, just endless grey days of mild drizzle or dampness. Everything stagnates. For a while I tried fighting through which resulted in some very messy classes where I just upset myself and probably disturbed those practising around me. If you really don’t feel like moving, I can assert that a vinyasa class is not the place to be. I thought I could move through this feeling, outrun it, or melt it away. I couldn’t. Next time I might be wiser.

When that didn’t work I retreated home and only ventured out for restorative classes where the obvious demands were minimal — although the inner work never let up.

While at home my practice ebbed and flowed (always a vinyasa girl deep inside!) as I sought ways towards the peace I yearn for. Short and simple āsana practices, no forethought, just a spontaneous movement however felt right. Earthy poses until I felt a desire to lift up and be tall in the world. I kind of wish I could have seen what this looked like. Beautiful or terrible? Terribly beautiful maybe.

krishnaBut I also spent hours just listening. Nāda yoga. The yoga of sound. Though at times it felt like nada yoga, nothingness yoga (my first ever Sanskrit-Spanish pun. Humour me!) I spent afternoons lying the sofa listening to Bach. Nocturnes, Goldberg variations, cantatas, the Christmas Oratorio for a finale. I was passive, detached and wondering at the beauty, the divine inspiration and the passion. Then I listened to other devotional music, chants and mantras. I was drawn over and over back to the Madhuraṣtakam sung by Shyamdas. It drew me in with its sweetness and simplicity. It’s a series of verses, each one listing eight (aṣta) sweet (madhura) attributes of Krishna. It lightened me, it brought some love back into my heart. I listened again and again, I picked out some words by ear and eventually I looked at the Sanskrit and the English translation. I doodled Devanagari as I listened. Felt-tip, messy, childish scribblings but curiously good for the soul.

And when finally I make it willingly, but slightly nervously, back to class flanked by yoga friends, their mats buffering my sense of vulnerability, I find the Madhuraṣtakam on my teacher’s playlist. Sweet! And now I find movement is exactly what I need. My body revelling in strength (tonight so many Vasiṣṭhāsana-s punctuating a flowing standing sequence – I loved it open-heartedly!) and the breath leading me magically into deeper releases. “Let go” my teacher insisted. And for once I did.

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