Yoga For Musicians

 

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“Yoga is like music.

The rhythm of the body,

the melody of the mind,

and the harmony of the soul,

create the symphony of life.” – BKS Iyengar

 

The benefits of yoga are widely known and have proven themselves upon the millions of people who choose to practice it worldwide. (Right now, around 15 million people in the USA alone are practicing yoga, and this figure is growing rapidly). Well known artists such Alanis Morisette, Moby, Ziggy Marley, Adam Levine of Maroon 5, Sting and Madonna have already shown how effective yoga has been for their bodies, minds and lives. (You can follow this link to read an interview with some of these musicians about their yoga practice: http://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/3134)

 Life brings with it highs and lows. It is easy to get caught up in everything going on around us, especially within the music industry where everything is so fast paced and continually evolving. Through the practice of yoga, we learn to tune in to our breath and body, lowering cortisol levels (the ‘stress hormone’) and creating a more balanced state of mind. The breathing practices, combined with movement and postures brings us to a more focussed and positive place.

 Yoga is known to greatly enhance mood levels for long periods of time. In a culture where the majority of people look to drugs, alcohol or coffee for a ‘quick fix’ to temporarily improve their mood, yoga’s benefits are deeper and more profound. You definitely don’t have to change your way of life or quit your habits to practice yoga, this is an opportunity to discover alternative ways of feeling great without the side effects!

 Habitually sitting for long periods of time in class, driving long distances on tour, while working or at the mixing desk, all contribute to tight muscles of the torso and hips, decreasing mobility and freedom of movement. Lifting heavy amps and constantly carrying heavy equipment and instruments puts strain on these muscles which is likely to cause back pain – the leading cause of disability amongst those under 45 years old. By practicing yoga – improved strength, flexibility and a lengthening of these muscles can be noticed dramatically, and often pain in the body starts to heal and disappear. Strengthening the core muscles also helps to protect the back from injury, and makes performing on stage less tiring, safer and more enjoyable.

 Yoga is known to very much improve self confidence, especially as the physical practice develops and we begin to trust our bodies a little more. Through moving in ways that are new to us, we start to ‘get to know ourselves’ a little better. This greater sense of self confidence and positivity can make a big difference when stepping up on stage in front of large crowds, which is a big turning point in a performance career.

Raw Vegan Mini Christmas Puddings

It’s not long until Christmas! Time to experiment with some alternative nutritious nibbles for everyone.

We all know that you are what you eat. Would you rather be made of pre-packaged, sugar filled, artificial snacks? Or natural, healthy, filling and delicious treats?

I know what I’d rather be made of….

So here is the recipe for some very delicious and nutritious Christmas themed treats!

Mini Raw Vegan Christmas Puddings

 I am not a very accurate measurer, so this recipe mostly uses ‘handfuls’ and ‘some’ as guidelines! Basically, if you want more, use bigger amounts, if you want less…. Use less!

 The sort of amounts I used made 5 or 6 balls that were bigger than a conker but smaller than a golf ball….

Ingredients:

 – Handful of raw cashews

– Handful of raw almonds

– Handful of dried coconut pieces

– Pinch of pink Himalayan mountain salt (or whatever salt you have!)

– 1 small carrot, grated

– Handful of raisins

– 5 prunes (stones removed!) or dates…. I could only find prunes in my house at the time, but at least they’ll keep you ‘regular’ if you know what I mean….

– Small pieces of other dried fruit like dried mango or pineapple or something like that if you have it

– A few dried cherries

– Zest of an orange

– Tsp cinnamon

– Pinch of nutmeg and allspice

– You can add a couple of little spoons of honey, although that doesn’t make these strictly vegan anymore

For the top decorative part:

 – Icing sugar and lemon juice mixed until it looks like there’s enough (obviously these will be healthier without the icing sugar but they won’t look very Christmas pudding-y and it is only a tiny amount of sugar.)

– Chopped cherries for the berries

– A little bit of a mint leaf for the holly

Instructions:

–        Put the nuts, coconut pieces and salt in a blender or food processor and pulse until they’re all finely chopped.

–        Add the carrot, dried fruit, orange zest and all the spices and pulse again until everything is finely chopped and starting to come together

–        If you’re using honey, add it now. If your mixture isn’t sticky enough without the honey, add a couple more dates or prunes

–        Wet your hands a little and roll the mixture in to balls

 For the decoration on top:

–        mix some lemon juice and icing sugar together to form a thick paste and drizzle over each rolled ball

–        chop up some dried cherries in to little bits and pop them on top to resemble red berries

–        add a little tiny bit of mint leaf (or any green edible leaf really) to resemble holly

 Put these in the freezer to set for a little bit and then they’re ready to eat!

You can store these in the freezer for a while until they’re ready to be eaten too

There are 15 million Americans practicing yoga right now…. why?

There are countless blogs ‘out there’ telling you why yoga is good for you, why you should be practicing it, and what you might experience.

The truth is, everyone’s experience of what yoga is to them differs a little. Yes, we are all agreed on the definition of yoga, derived from the root word ‘yoke’ meaningto unite’ – so by many people’s accounts, yoga means ‘to unite’. But ‘to unite’ with what? Some say, with the divine, others to a higher power. To me, and to many others, it means to unite with who you really are. Your ‘true Self’.

I can’t tell you what you will experience, I can’t tell you why it is good for you, I can’t even tell you why you should be practicing it. I can only tell you what it means to me:

‘Yoga Chitta Vrtti Nirodaha’. In the well known philosophical texts the ‘Yoga Sutras of Patanjali’, yoga is said to calm the fluctuations of the mind’. The first time I ever remember my mind stopped going at 100 miles-per-hour was in one of my first yoga classes. Yoga has transformed my mind and body from weak and fearful to strong and positive. It allows me to actually live in the present moment, rather than caught up in thoughts about the past or future – concentrating on the breath, moving and listening to how we feel in a particular moment allows us to fully be there in reality, instead of somewhere in our minds which doesn’t even exist. It teaches me to trust myself and the decisions I make. It has taught me that the more you learn, the more there is to learn. It always teaches me that the most important moment is now. It has taught me that everyone is so different. It is not about touching your toes and doing handstands. It is also not about lying down and shutting your mind off. It forces me to listen to things I have been ignoring. It has opened my eyes to more things than I thought possible. Yoga makes me want to share everything I have learned so far, so I trained to teach it to anyone and everyone. It puts me in the most unexpected circumstances. It brings me back together. It has taught me all of this and about a thousand more things that are unexplainable. It can teach you too if you’re willing to learn.

I want to share everything I have learned and continue to learn about living fully, healthily, honestly and in the present moment. 

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