An Exploration of the Melody of Life
Rāga Yoga is an online exploration of the self through the rāgas in the Indian classical music and some simple yet powerful practices from Antaranga Yoga (Inner Work Through Yoga). I first experimented with this idea with a dear friend and wonderful Hindustani musician Smt. Ashlesha Shintre in May 2020. The program was named ‘Antarnaad’ in its first edition. Subsequently, I co-created this program in its current format as ‘Rāga Yoga’ with Smt. Shruti Bode, a great Hindustani musician and teacher based in Bangalore. During the lockdown following pandemic in 2020, we had three editions of Rāga Yoga which received heart warming response from participants around the world. Today, we completed the fourth edition of Rāga Yoga Online to begin 2021 on a fresh and melodious note.
We had tight knit group of 15 participants from India and US, and one participant even joining from aboard a ship in the Gulf of Mexico. The excitement to explore music and yoga in a self-reflective manner was palpable in the group. Unlike the previous Rāga Yoga explorations were we chose one specific rasa (such as karuna, shringāram, etc.) from the Navarasas that one comes across in Natya Shastra, this time we chose to just hold an intention for the music to allow the participants to feel complete with the past and look ahead in the new year with fresh eyes and clear mind.
It was surprising to see a common pattern emerge in the sharings by participants even though they were not given any theory or even names of the Rāgas that we chose for today’s exploration. As the session progressed from Bahiranga Yoga (consisting of asana-pranayama), to connecting to the Self through through the rāgas and reflective art, and finally to the Antaranga Yoga (Inner Work Through Yoga) session consisting of intimate sharing of the reflections and insights from the exploration, the overall narrative of the exploration seemed to resonate with the intention we held for the session.
Many shared how the journey through the three rāgās, viz., Sohni, Nat Bhairav and Yaman, took them through a very evocative and colourful inner journey. Some of the imageries that got evoked for participants were also similar though they never interacted with each other before. One participant shared how he could experience a certain pain in the spine while listening to one of the rāgās and how it got released and relieved by the time it reached the final rāga. One of the critical processes that we invite participants to take up in these sessions is to stay with such powerful evocations without hurrying to find solutions or answers to the experience.
I am grateful to the learnings I have had with my teachers Sri Raghu Ananthanarayanan and Smt. Sashikala Ananth, as whatever Antaranga Yoga processes I am introducing to participants in this session is what I have learnt with them in Ritambhara. I feel touched and energised by the connection we experienced as a community during today’s Rāga Yoga session. Look forward to more melodious and evocative musical experiences through the year!