Monday, July 1, 2013

The Power of Music

I weep every time I hear "The Star Spangled Banner". Every. Single. Time. It's the break between the lines "o'er the land of the free" and "and the home of the brave" that gets me. Actually, it's the cheering and emotion of the crowd I'm in that usually takes me for the emotional ride. Music has that power.

You know how the painful memories are the ones that are most easily recalled? I can recall the happy times, and each and every happy memory comes with a soundtrack. Music evokes those joyful, free, limitless potential times in my memory, which makes it often funny for my family when I turn up a song by AC/DC and belt it out at the top of my lungs. "Mom, you like AC/DC?" They ask in surprise.

I can't help it. It takes me back to a summer day when I was in my early twenties, driving down the road with the windows down and the music turned up, feeling free. I remember turning left onto Blossom Hill Road, and a driver at the red light had his window down, listening to the same song as me. We were both singing, and our smiles and our volume picked up as I passed.

Drum circle with Heather Holland

Music uplifts and connects us.
Singing has always helped me process strong emotions.

For my fortieth birthday celebration, we hired both an extremely gifted drum circle facilitator named Heather Holland as well as the fun, talented Road Dogs classic rock band. People still tell me how much they enjoyed the drumming, singing and dancing!
Singing along with the Road Dogs

Why is music so moving? 

In my yoga studies, I've found answers: The Vedas are a collection of Indian Philosophy, text of which was originally chanted. Some verses still are. In the Vedas, we are taught that the human being has different koshas, or layers. The layer that relates to the mind and emotions, the manomayakosha, is influenced directly by sound. The words we listen to, the background noises and the music of our lives all feed this layer of emotion and thought.

In my western studies, I've also found answers: There is a part of the brain that turns on when we hear something, another part that turns on when we understand what we hear, and still another that is stimulated when we vocalize it.

We use more of our brain when we chant or sing.

Over a decade ago, I attended a yoga and chanting workshop, co-led by Samantha Brown and Suzanne Sterling. I hadn't yet decided to teach yoga; it was still the activity I did in order to maintain my life, but the thoughts were definitely there. During Suzanne's portion of the workshop, she taught us the importance of overcoming fear, of expressing our true thoughts and feelings, and how to notice what effects singing and chanting had on us. I was forever changed by that workshop. It cultivated my breath, my honesty, my self-empathy, my determination and, ultimately, contributed to me becoming a yoga teacher.

Suzanne is still offering her magic to the world, in big ways. On July 13, she will be at Breathe Los Gatos for a workshop called, "Rise Up". I highly recommend you check it out. For more info, go to the Breathe website, HERE.


  • Special class: Lorien will be teaching a Yin yoga class on Friday, July 5 at 11am at Breathe Los Gatos; this is a drop-in class, but it will fill up fast, so pre-registration is advised. Sign up HERE.
Lorien's Healing Yoga for Wellness DVD is out! How to get your very own copy:
  • Order from Amazon for $27.95, plus tax and shipping 
  • Stop in to Breathe Los Gatos and get it today for $30, plus tax
  • Buy it directly from Lorien for $27.19 (tax included, no shipping, you must pick it up in class)
  • Coming soon to eBay, Kaiser Santa Clara, local yoga studios and many more...