Country music and Bhakti yoga 


I went to a wonderful concert recently, performed by the cast of the Nashville TV series. It was at the beautiful setting of the Royal Albert Hall in London. And I cried the whole way through! 

Country music is, I find, especially emotional and passionate. The performers were incredible, loving and heartfelt. They connected with my heart and literally broke it open with their words and intention. Once the tears started to flow there was no stopping them. I realised it wasn’t just the music that was making me cry, it was the catalyst for me to release my emotions. 

It reminded me very much of my stay in India where I lived in an ashram and joined in with a 7 day Bhakti yoga celebration; Bhakti yoga is the practice of chanting as a way of connecting to the divine. We were in Vrindavan, which is the birthplace of the Hindu God Krishna, Krishna is the lover God! He had many women, gopis, who were in love with him and folllowed him around. So for days we listened to stories and chanted together culminating in the final day when an ecstatic, love fest, dance party broke out! The high vibration energy and the love between us all was palpable – we were connected to each other and to the divine and it was an incredible dance and flow of beauty and love – as you can see in the photo. 

Listening to the Nashville concert had a similar effect of joining everyone in the room by the heart. I realised, as the tears were running down my face, that I’ve kept my heart on lock down for a long time now. My heart was badly broken and with the best intentions of protecting it I unconsciously put it carefully in a safe place, on lock down. As the music played and my emotions flooded to the surface I could feel my heart cracking open and allowing in the love and the pain. It felt good and scary and exhausting, a huge relief. 

It felt so much better to experience the emotions, not that it was comfortable, than to shut them down. Feeling is being alive. My whole body shifted, my shoulders relaxed and I could move more freely. The audience stood up and danced for the last few songs, it’s no accident that music and dancing are intrinsically connected. When the emotion is coming up moving your body helps it move through you and out, hence ‘e-motion’. Dancing is an awesome way to do this, moving your hips and shoulders, often the places in the body emotion and tension gets stuck. One of my yoga teachers told me that if I’m feeling uninspired with my home practice, to turn on some tunes and just move my body in any way that feels good – I do this all the time and I love it! Try it… 😘

Healing yin yoga and hip openers

gemma childs pose.jpg

It was a day of things going a little awry and then synchronistically working out perfectly.

I was planning on going to my morning Sivananda yoga class at the ashram in Putney, as I trained in this very soothing, classical style in India. I didn’t sleep well at last night so was waking and sleeping till late in the morning and missed my class. Not to be thwarted I decided to go along to a later class a local studio I haven’t been to before, a Yin class. I thought Yin, a very slow style of yoga where the poses are held for long periods of time, would suit me perfectly as I am recovering from chronic fatigue and so have been doing very little exercise recently.

The poses were a range of steady holding and gently flowing, it was physically harder than I expected to hold still for so long! I was very impressed by the teacher’s knowledge both in the realm of the spiritual and physical. The piece of information which stuck in my mind most and turned on a light bulb of understanding was her explanation of the iliopsoas.

She explained the iliopsoas is the only muscle that is attached to both the lower limbs and the torso (the spine) making its way down through the pelvis, it is actually the deepest muscle in the human body. In yoga it is known as the ‘muscle of the soul’ as it holds emotional as well as physical tension. When we are relaxed in life and feel able to express ourselves our hips tend to be more open, when we are in flight or fight response (stress) our hips become tighter and movement is reduced. This is why when practicing hip openers in yoga, especially in a yin yoga class (where we held a low lunge for at least 5 minutes!), often emotions and hidden frustrations come bubbling up to the surface.

This was my experience exactly, I knew that my right hip was especially tight, and I attributed it to difficult emotions connected to close male relationships in my life (right side of the body represents yang/ masculine energy). While holding the stretch on the right side the wave of emotions was overwhelming so much so that I feared I might cry out if I didn’t release the pose and take a break.

I loved the teacher’s beautiful, soulful and anatomically correct explanation of why the emotions are caught up in the hip area. I breathed through the emotions, through the discomfort in an effort to let go as much as I could. Often in a deep hip opener I can feel the resistance building in my body almost like very small convulsion and if I stay with it and breathe through it my body releases the blocked energy and I can relax and let go a little deeper.

This class, this teacher, this pose and this explanation were exactly what I need to heal and nourish myself today. And the bonus prize was the studio are offering a £25 unlimited pass for 2 weeks for newbies – so much to be grateful for in the flow of synchronicity.