I was lucky enough to be able to attend Mirabai Ceiba’s concert in London last Saturday. It was a beautiful, intimate show in Union Chapel, candles lit all around. They played some of their beautiful kundalini yoga music, and we all chanted together. It got me thinking about the concerts and gigs I used to go to, pre-yoga days, and how times have changed. My first ever ‘big’ gig was Cypress Hill at Brixton Academy, where we all nodded to podgy beats in slow unison beneath a thick, pungent haze of smoke which I’m pretty sure wasn’t just cigarettes – this was centuries ago! In those days, music – the louder, the better – was my passion. From our humble beginnings as indie rock DJs at a tiny club in Zimbabwe, my sister and I were promoted to resident Saturday night DJs at The Underworld, a rock club in Camden, London. It was all very loud and messy, and I loved it!
And now, two decades on, I never, ever listen to indie rock. How’s that for a complete change of tune? Don’t get me wrong, I always do a happy dance if I catch an airwave from one of my old favourites, but I’m just never pulled to play it. If I choose to play music nowadays, it’s a raag, or a mantra from the kundalini yoga music library. There are some similarities to my former indie self, I suppose… where I used to seek out tracks that would fill a dancefloor, I’m now much more interested in discovering a kundalini yoga song that will pair beautifully with a kriya I’m teaching or will touch the hearts of those in my classes.
My naad yoga teacher Sidak describes this dialogue as entertainment vs innertainment. Entertainment is music to bring us outside ourself, to help us forget – escapism in a way, while innertainment is a composition that takes us deeper inside, that touches our soul and tunes our emotions, that encourages a profound meditative state. For Sidak, even the kundalini yoga music we play in class is entertainment. The raags, the compositions based upon the emotional signatures of the notes, are the real innertainment.
I’m not quite where Sidak is, yet. I still love kundalini yoga music – it’s one of the main factors that brought me to kundalini yoga, and I still appreciate the uplifting power of a great kundalini yoga song placed well in a tough kriya. I also feel that everything has a place, whether it’s to delight, or to deepen a meditation, whether it’s entertainment or innertainment, indie rock or raag, it’s all equally special.
Sat nam x