I have to say that these last few weeks of teaching yoga have been an absolute delight and full of creativity. Even though it was cold and snowing like crazy on March 29, a packed house at Yoga Bliss Akron heated it up so it felt as hot as Jamaica, and the picture was complete with their reggae mat dancing during my Yoga of Bob Marley class.
Last Saturday, I got to hang out with the coolest group of dead-icated yogis doing deadhead downward dogs during my Yoga of the Grateful Dead class. And, it has been a blast putting together all of the inspirational classes I will lead during the Beach Yoga Bliss II retreat in Aruba (woo hoo, can’t wait to get on that plane and head to the Caribbean on April 22!).
Putting together these special themed classes has been challenging, but it’s also incredibly rewarding to spread my wings and combine three things I’m really passionate about: yoga, music, and travel. Here are just a few highlights that have made these classes so cool to teach!
1) Reggae Dancer. When I was planning the Bob Marley and Grateful Dead classes, part of the flows included dancing. For both classes, I worried whether or not anyone would dance. I don’t know why; I guess it’s something an author or musician tends to worry about – whether or not what they’ve created will be infectious enough for people to let go and give into the rhythm. I’m happy to report that my worries were for naught. All the yogis danced and flowed on their yoga mats, and it was awesome to see and to dance along with them.
2) Dead-icated. At the beginning of the Grateful Dead class, I asked the attendees how many of them had been to a Grateful Dead concert. One gentleman had been to 3 shows, another 80, and unbelievably one woman announced that she had been to 200 shows. Wowza! I was just a little intimidated and in awe of the knowledge of the Dead she must have. I wonder if I could convince her to travel around the world to all of my Yoga of the Grateful Dead classes*? It made me stop and think about how dedicated I am to my yoga practice.
3) Deadhead Confessions. I admitted to the class that I had never been to a concert or been a huge fan of the group until I started to put together this class. But when I really started to listen to their music as I put the set list (aka playlist) together, I found myself adding song after song to the point where it really became a struggle to narrow down my top choices. With all the recorded live versions of their music available, the exploration of Grateful Dead’s creations could go on and on. Being the confessed new fan that I am, I’m planning to keep on truckin’ and listening (and flowing) along.
One of my new Grateful Dead favorites “Shakedown Street”
Love is Shaking on Shakedown Street!
4) Masters of Improvisation. Every Grateful Dead concert had periods where the band improvised, and that is where the magic and freedom began. We did the same thing on our mats, giving ourselves permission to deviate from the flow and let loose into improvisational or freedom-style yoga. I told the group they could start by plugging into the flow I had just taught them, or they could improvise their very own movement – to let themselves loop in, feel the vibe, tune into the music and into the asanas, and let their vinyasas and their breath dance. I was first exposed to freedom-style yoga by Erich Schiffmann, and it is always a treat to get to share this liberating practice with others.
5) Hubby Yoga. I just had to smile when my husband showed up for the Grateful Dead class since he does not have a regular yoga practice. Not only did he show up, but he came to the studio with his Vernice Vita yoga mat and NamaSTAY Yoga Towel so he could be dead-icated to his yoga flows with slip-free comfort!
6) Listening to the Universe. Sometimes you get an idea to do something and then just sit on it. The idea to create the yoga classes tied to the yoga teachings of Bob Marley, the Grateful Dead, and the Beatles came to me over a year ago, but I didn’t act on it right away. Fortunately, there were a few people in my life who lit a fire under my ass and encouraged me to put them together: sharing song suggestions and concert experiences to relay the messages from the universe I needed to keep the dream of these classes alive. Thank you, Joe, Vernon, and Mike!
Image via tumblr.com
7) Encore! I am super excited that I have one more class to go in this music series. The Yoga of the Beatles is coming up Friday, May 16, at Yoga Bliss Akron from 6:30 – 8:30 PM. *After that I’m ready to take these classes on tour, so if you would like more information about the series or would like to book them at your yoga studio, please contact me at maria @ dailydownwarddog.com or (330) 289-7026.
I’m feeling blessed, energized, and grateful to Bob, the Beatles, and the Grateful Dead for the inspiration, incredible music, and for living their yoga off the mat through their music and the way they cared and showed compassion for all beings.