My Thursday evening was spent in a tranquil yoga studio called The Yoga Mat. I had the privilege of attending a yin yoga class taught by my very first yoga teacher ever, Tania. Her class immediately brought back many fond memories of which I had the pleasure of experiencing for the first time, many years ago. It was my introduction to yoga with Tania that got me hooked into this journey from the very beginning. Her ability to read her students and her overall energy captivated me as completely as I remember it happening those years ago. From the moment she began speaking I was taken away to yoga-land, to thoroughly enjoy each moment and movement on my mat. I don’t usually do yin style yoga classes or have someone speaking to me during my practice and haven’t for some time. I was sweetly reminded how comfortable and pleasurable the experience can be. And after the deep stretching we did in Tania’s beautifully crafted class, we were prepared to move into our Nada Yoga meditation with the one and only Ram Vakkalanka.
~Me in a yin pose breathing deeply~
What is Nada Yoga?
According to Ram, who is a teacher of yoga philosophy, Sanskrit, meditation, A Sitar performer and Kirtan singer, Nada Yoga is:
“A combination of philosophy, medicine, metaphysics, and physical yoga, the premise of Nada Yoga is that all things in the Universe, including living beings, are made of sound vibrations, called Nada. It is believed that Nada is the building block of the cosmos and that this energy brings everything together. This connection with sound means that Nada Yoga is often associated with music, harmony, chanting, and how these things can bring beings closer to oneness with the cosmos. Nada is also often used to bring focus to ones energy centers, or Chakra. The use of sound in this way can have a vibrant healing effect as well as psychological benefits. It is believed that there two types of music: internal and external. External, of course, being the music that we consume through our sense of sound. Internal music, however, consists of the vibrations within us. With a strong focus, one can hear their own inner music. Additionally, when the internal and external come into harmony, the effects are beautiful”~ http://www.aksharayoga.com
Ram used his sitar to bring mesmerizing melodies to our ears as we were lulled into a state of meditation.
What is a sitar?
The sitar is a sophisticated large and stringed instrument which is thought to have developed to its current state around the 1500s. When I first saw it, I was amazed at how detailed it is with lotus flowers on some of the tuning pegs or Kunti. In fact, Ram informed us that the sitar was created to resemble the human spinal column. The 7 Kunti which are found at the top of the instrument are meant to represent the 7 chakras or energy centres believed to exist along the spinal plane in human beings. There are variations of the instrument but Ram’s has 24 frets just as the human spine has 24 veterbrae. I think the symbolism of this instrument is artful and fascinating. If a string is bent down gently as it is played, it will be in tune with lower notes. This allows for the notes to be rolled and it makes for some very entrancing sounds ~ perfect for Nada Yoga.
In his meditation, Ram uses particular tones which he improvises each time he plays them to bring about focus and healing to particular chakras in his sessions. In our session we worked on three chakras. We began with the first one which is the root chakra or Muladhara. It’s location is at the perineum and it is visualized as a red lotus flower with 4 petals. The seed sound associated with this Chakra is LAM. We chanted the seed sound before Ram began playing his sitar. We were also shown a mudra or hand position associated with the root chakra and we held this mudra gently in our laps during our musical meditation. We had a different seed sound and mudra for each of the chakras that we focused on.
The next meditation was on the third chakra which is called Manipura or the solar plexus chakra. The seed sound for this one is RAM and the colour is fire yellow. It is visualized as a yellow lotus at the solar plexus with 10 petals. The final meditation was on the heart chakra or Anahata. The seed sound is YAM and the colour is emerald green. This time we were instructed to lay down on our mats with our heads pointed towards Ram and his sitar.
At the end of the session, we were all in such a state of peaceful relaxation. I remember getting up and wishing I could just curl up again with the blanket I had over me and go to sleep, LoL. I enjoyed the whole evening so much and I really look forward to the next time Ram and Tania will lead us again. I will be there, maybe you should come too☺️
~ Me with Ram & The Sitar~
Websites for these soulful human beings
The Yoga Mat has teacher trainings, workshops and retreats for students and teachers alike. Tania and her sister Samantha grew up practicing and living yoga from a young age. With many years of experience, these beautiful human beings teach straight from the heart. Tania’s studio has a very welcoming atmosphere and you will find yourself at home while you learn her many offerings.
Ram Vakkalanka is a travelling teacher and if you check out his website, you may find a workshop in your neighbourhood. I highly recommend going to one or more of his sessions as his wisdom will assist any serious yoga practitioner in learning more about yoga, the supporting philosophical texts and much more.