Thursday, March 03, 2011

Nada yoga: music yoga, the yoga of bliss

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I myself have always been chary of classical music in my youth, simply perhaps it was what my dad liked (teens are simple-headed that way:) But since I started learning Hindustani music (without any sense of swar, beat etc, I stumble along, desperate to follow:) I have found that music can answer things inside...

And it does not have to be any specific genre of music... wherever the artist's intention has been loyal to the integrity of his or her genre -- I am moved.. and feel this `white noise' which consumes everything else. I guess I am lucky that way, that I can relate to anything without having to be part of a slot, or a group or a generation... Everything shuts down and the music only speaks its own beat... leading somewhere.. When I listen to the tribal songs or folk music (Banyan tree's Sufi music) I am amazed how the music goes over the words and lyrics don't have to speak at all... If its is devotion or love or pining or grief or joy u just get that message immediately, over the words, through the attitude (bhava) of the singer, the chosen musical structure or the rhythm itself.. How this is so, is a huge wonder to me, and I am glad that even if I discovered music so late in life, it gives me what it is meant to give!!
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Here a few paras from an article I once wrote on Nada yoga: the special branch of ygoa which uses music to reach things into your nervous system!

This scientific definition for vedic `maya' or `illusion' makes it easier for us to accept yoga's definition of a human as being made up of five sheaths or bodies. The gross body that hurts, grows, etc is what we `see'. Beyond this, yoga sees four other layers -- a subtle body of our perceptions; our mental body comprising genetic memories, environmental imprints; our intuition and ego; finally, the bliss sheath, which different yoga schools interpret differently. Yoga believes the constant chatter of thoughts, which rise like restless waves from these sheaths, do not allow us to reach the oceanic depths or the inner core of Brahman. Nada yoga uses the inherent harmony of sound waves to pierce the different bodies to reach the sabdabrahman or the sound of the Universe which in its gross manifestation is the sound Om.

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Even a newborn baby can make out the difference between harsh sound (it is startled and cries) and music (it is soothed and falls asleep). So, it is easy to see how music or nada creates a sort of synkinesis (harmony in different parts of our body and mind) that speeds up meditation which is constantly challenged by the chaotic flurry of our thoughts. Science writer James Gleick's book `Nature's chaos', using photo-essays to depict the method in the madness of natural patterns, quotes metallurgist Cyril Stanley Smith: `All structures (whether of atoms, cells, philosophies, or societies) began from something that was without form and void. A nucleus of a definite structure somehow formed somewhere, and if it was a structure more desirable than chaos, it then proceeded to grow at the expense of chaos...'

Nada yoga uses the consciousness of four levels of sound to penetrate through the chaos of thoughts to reach the core of such creation. Sound has patterns that the mind embraces even though it may not be able to explain why. In the Man'sworld magazine (I recall reading a long while ago) sculptor Balan Nambiar marvels at how when the company Texas Instruments digitally processed the sound Om, it formed the shape of a perfect shankha or conch. Interestingly, when you press your fingers and thumbs into the shankh mudra it immediately ensures a rare calmness.

In our daily practice, the Brahmari pranayama:
The Bihar School of yoga found in a group of around 400 pregnant women the 112 who practiced Bhramari ( the `humming bee' breathing practice, used in nada yoga) had less premature births, less spontaneous abortions, shorter labour, less pain, less caesarean sections, more healthy babies than the others.


Vishwanathan said...

The write up on Nada Yoga is real good. Thanks for posting it.

ev nathan

Shameem Akthar said...

Thks ev:)