February 6 would have been the 68th birthday of the legendary reggae master Bob Marley. I didn’t realize this auspicious date until I saw all the posts about Bob on Facebook and Twitter, and I decided right then and there that I would do a special yoga class playlist in honor of his music. I always try to include at least one reggae song in every class, and Bob has graced my playlist more times than I can note, so why not have a whole playlist dedicated to the legend?

As I was listening to his music and adding songs to the playlist, the lyrics were more than just resonating with me – I was hearing the teachings of the yoga sutras being beautifully sung to me with an awesome reggae beat.

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.”

Is this lyric from “Redemption Song” not the essence of yoga? Letting go of the mental chatter so we can free our minds to be present in all that we do is what yoga is all about.

One love, One Heart, Let’s get together and feel alright.”

Me only have one ambition, y’know, I only have one thing I really like to see happen. I like to see mankind live together – black, white, Chinese, everyone, that’s all.”

Are these last two statements not another interpretation of Namaste? I honor the divine light in me, and I honor and bow to the divine light in each and every soul.

I’m thinking that Bob may have never stepped on a yoga mat, but he was a yogi deep within his heart.  Not only should he be revered for the music he created, but as a guru whose wisdom lives on through his music.

My exploration into Bob’s quotes and lyrics has contributed to my lexicon of mantras that I will continue to use for years to come.

Love the life you live. Live the life you love.”

Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you’re living?” – from the song “Exodus”

I had a blast teaching with his music as the soundtrack and have to laugh because the first class on Wednesday used three Bob Marley songs, and by the end of the week, the entire playlist except for the opening breath meditation and savasana was the music from the Bob Marley & the Wailers album Legend. I encouraged the yogis attending my classes to let go, free their minds, and do a little yoga mat dancing if the spirit moved them.

Marley also encourages me to do something I’ve wanted to try in my yoga classes for a really long time. Ever since I went to a weekend of workshops with Erich Schiffmann and got my first taste of freedom-style yoga, I knew that I would someday introduce the concept to my classes. The reggae-infused playlist provided the perfect opportunity.

So what is freedom-style yoga?

In freedom-style yoga, you are instructed to do whatever you please, to plug into the yoga patterns that you already know, listen to the music, trust yourself, and just let go and flow. Erich explained that when these downloads occur, we give expression to what we’re feeling and channel it into our practice. It doesn’t matter what you do; the beauty of it is that you have permission to do your own thing. This can be a little unnerving to some, so I was quick to offer some words of advice: Keep your eyes on your mat, maybe even close your eyes, listen to the music, and just go where your body is telling you to go. How cool is it that you get to deviate from the prescribed pattern? And, I can’t think of a better musical artist to try out freedom-style jamminasana to than Bob Marley! You can bet we will be doing some freedom-style yoga and yoga mat dancing on my beach yoga retreat in Aruba this coming April!

I read this quote right as savasana was ending:

“Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you are riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief, and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts; put your vision to reality. Wake up and live.”

 

Do yourself a favor: If you own a copy of Legend, pop it in, pull out your yoga mat, and try a freedom-style reggae infused jamminasana yoga session today. Let your hair down, plug into the music, and just move organically to the beat. If you don’t own a copy of Legend – get one! Close your eyes, listen to the lyrics, and then perhaps after you’re done practicing, meditate on one of Marley’s messages that resonates with your heart.

I’ll take you out with these classic words of wisdom from the master yogi himself…

“Don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing is gonna be alright.”

Jai