By Finn Evans
Yoga and music are both forms of non-verbal communication. A way to have a conversation with a part of you that does not speak but wants to be heard.
Although sound and movement are universal, our own individual connection and experience of them is unique to a time and place. Each note and chord, movement or asana, is never to be replicated or repeated.
We can strive for the ‘perfect’ performance of either form but rarely find enjoyment or connection in that pursuit. If there is a goal to be found in both practices, then surely it is connection.
And what are we connecting to? A flow, a vibration, an instinct? Both help us develop the ability to tap into something beyond ourselves, yet require ourselves in the experience.
Juxtaposition is at the centre of both and I suppose it is exactly that that helps us find balance. Navigating the lines between life’s opposing sensations; concentration and relaxation; tension and release; thought and instinct; passion and reverence; inhale and exhale; sound and silence; practice and play.
Like any balancing act, we are dealing with something fragile in nature, which can leave us open to fear and doubt. That’s why feelings of insecurity and vulnerability are common and persistent amongst practitioners of both disciplines.
The ego can often compensate for this by conflating self worth with performance and admiration, leading our attention to shift from acceptance and observation of the now to a specific achievement and outcome in the future. But that only takes away from the essence of both practices.
Do we practice to be the one (of many) who can achieve a specific asana or have our identity invested in playing to a particular audience? What happens when the asana is achieved, the song is performed and the target is reached?
The presence that carries through each of these moments, the constant but changing awareness of these states and the flow between them, is why we do so; this is where we rejuvenate. This is why we keep coming back for more.
We must show up to receive and connect to this awareness and indeed there is a practice and commitment that must be made. This non verbal language takes time to learn, and patience and persistence are key tools in translating it.
The act of practising yoga or practicing music are often seen as luxuries; the activities of a few people who have enough time in their day and who are talented enough to engage in them. This can be challenged by observing and questioning what it is to actually participate in either practice and what is gained from doing so.
Do you have to be a professional to enjoy and benefit? You would struggle to find an ambassador or practitioner of either who would tell you “this is exclusively for those who know and can demonstrate as such.”
And although both are practised and explored in isolation with tremendous benefits, there is an undeniable energy and experience in participating with others. The effect of collaborating through music or yoga creates a profound change in the nature of the experience when the concept of ‘ability’ or ‘talent’ breaks down and becomes less meaningful.
Does a yoga teacher expect to teach a class filled with experienced yogi’s? Does a musician want to play to people who can only sing along in key and clap on time? I think not.
The reality of what is essential has come under question recently, with many people reassessing what they need to be healthy physically and mentally. There is an argument to be made that the experiences of yoga and music are not ‘essential’ (certainly not in the same way food or medicine is) something that has clearly been emphasised by our government and its policies during this covid pandemic. However they do provide an obvious (at least to the people who practice them) benefit to both physical and mental health.
To be able to gather in groups and connect through movement and music feels like an essential part of the human experience. And as we continue to isolate and practice by ourselves and for ourselves, a feeling that something deeper is required is emerging.
There is a growing sense that these practices and pursuits need to be nested in something greater than ourselves. Something collective. Something true.
Check out Finn's band, Rookeries, on Spotify here. And thanks for writing such an insightful blog! :)