Together, rock 'n' roll and yoga taste like sweat, love and presence. My yoga practice takes me to places bitterly sweet and ecstatically sexy, just like my favorite songs. Whether it's the chanting of OM or the opening riff of an electric guitar, I feel the sound vibration deep within my core.
After riding the wave of sound or vinyasa, I come to that place of deep surrender. The quiet I find there runs deep — far beneath the layers of ego definition. It is a place of limitless being and ultimate unity.
When The Beatles became students of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1968, the global superstars seemingly had everything but were still dissatisfied with their material gain. It is well known that they had sought access to unlimited creativity by experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs — they found that acid could transport you to a place of expanded consciousness, but could not keep you there.
During their time spent in Rishikesh with Maharishi, The Beatles practiced Transcendental Meditation, ate vegetarian food and spent more time in nature. This led to the most creative time in their career, when much of the White Album was written. If you peruse the discography and lyrics, you'll find plenty of wisdom gracing the record. The much beloved song "Across the Universe," chants, "Jai guru deva om," a mantra used to invite the mind toward a higher state of consciousness.
The Beatles' search for something greater than the material world inspired countless young people to pursue a similar path. And it wasn't long thereafter before the next wave of musicians began using yoga and meditation to inspire their creativity. Mick Jagger still practices to this day!
But it wasn't just rock and roll superstars who helped yoga gain mainstream acceptance. Both are deeply personal and universal, creative and destructive, and powerful beyond description. We can almost feel the prophetic words of Jimi Hendrix beginning to manifest today: "When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace."
To share this energy with you I've put together an energizing rock 'n' roll flow to help jumpstart your day. And for a little extra boost, try this sequence with my " rock me rock me" playlist on Spotify. Be sure to warm up your body with a few rounds of Sun Salutations first, to help you get the most out of these eight dynamic poses.
" Here comes the Sun, little darlin ..." -George Harrison
Editor's Note: This sequence should be performed twice so that both sides of the body are balanced, beginning with the right side.
In Chair Pose (Utkatasana) think of Mick Jagger's infamous dance moves to help you power through this test of your inner and outer strength.
Start in Mountain Pose (Tadasana). Hug your legs together and then bend deeply in your knees until your fingertips touch the ground.
Keeping your legs super strong, reach your arms up beside your ears and draw your shoulders down your back. Buckle in your belly by drawing the navel toward your spine and lift your heart up!
Hold here for 5-10 deep inhales and exhales and release into a forward fold.
To enter Revolved Low Lunge (Parivrrta Anjaneyasana) from your forward fold, step your left foot behind you and bend through your right knee to a low lunge. Keeping your back heel lifted, bring your hands to your heart center.
Inhale, and lift the ribs way up and out of the pelvis. Exhale, and twist from the navel, bringing your left elbow to rest just outside of the right knee.
Keep lifting through the heart center while pressing the ball of the front foot into the ground. Twist away the things that aren't taking you towards the Light.
Hold here for 5 deep breaths and step your back foot forward to meet the other and fold forward once more. Roll yourself back up to stand.
In Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II), remember that you are the hero of your own story!
From Mountain Pose, step your left foot back and turn it in at about 45 degrees, bending your right knee at 90 degrees. Keeping a soft, fixed gaze, be sure your knee is stacked directly above your ankle.
Imagine that your front hip points are buckling together as the ribs lift out of the pelvis. Your arms are an extension of your heart, powerfully extending away from the center line of your body.
Hold here for 5 breaths.
As you move into Extended Side Angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana), feel your legs getting stronger as your upper body liberates!
From Warrior II, place your right forearm to rest on your right thigh, or bring your right hand to the ground just outside of your right foot.
Your back arm then becomes a strong extension of the back leg as you reach it up and over head, alongside your ear. Take your gaze up to the top hand and think about lifting your sternum up toward the sky.
Freedom comes from concentrating on your breath. Hold here for 5 long inhales and exhales.
Return to Warrior II and straighten your front leg. Triangle Pose (Trikonasana) is best kept simple and sweet. Allow your right hand to drop naturally to the shin or a block, and return your gaze back to the top hand.
Turn your focus to sturdy legs and a lengthening torso — this pose helps bring a clearer focus to your path.
Hold for 3-5 breaths.
From Triangle, bend deeply through your back leg and come to sit on your back heel for Low Side Lunge. (Skandasana). Lengthen through your front leg and send your toes skyward.
You can bring your hands to your heart or your fingertips can stay on the earth. Lifting out of the pelvic floor is key to keep you grounded in the center of the fire.
Breathe through this sensation knowing your inner light is aglow for 5 inhales and exhales.
To come to Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana), make your way to your sit bones and then lay back, drawing your knees toward your chest.
Hold the outer edges of your feet and gently pull the knees toward your armpits.
Remember this pose has been in your practice since you were a baby. Let a sweet smile alight your face and allow your breath to soften the tension in your hips.
Breathe deeply for 5-10 breaths.
This simple, sweet seat of Easy Pose (Sukasana) is a wonderful place to connect to the universal truth inside of you.
From Happy Baby, hug your knees in toward your chest and rock back and forth until you come up to a seated position. Sit with a tall spine, and cross your legs to allow the ankles to line up in front of each other.
The equanimity of loving is uncovered here. Bring your hands to your heart and close your eyes for a few moments of meditation. Namaste.
Photos courtesy of the author, Graphics by MBG Creative