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Singing Mantra – Continuing the Inquiry into Cultural Appropriation and Yoga by Emma Dines

Last December I recorded five songs that I sing for students at the end of my classes, while they rest in savasana, a final resting pose. We have been releasing the songs periodically throughout the last year on our blog. You can listen to and download all of them on Soundcloud. This last song is actually a mantra, called the Gayatri Mantra. It is one of the oldest Vedic chants, and this version that I sing is a shortened version of the original.

It is interesting and a bit uncomfortable that I am releasing this song now, after posting a reflection about cultural appropriation and yoga in December. In that post, I wrote, When I first began teaching yoga six years ago, I was excited about the philosophical content I was learning and eagerly shared my interpretations/understanding of Tantra with my yoga students. I taught my students to sing mantras, and told them stories of Hindu deities. Now, looking back on that, I feel embarrassed. I would describe my early teaching as uninformed cultural misappropriation. Whatever cultural aspects of yoga I was sharing, they had been taught to me by white teachers, some of whom were scholars, but nevertheless, I was taking aspects of Hindu religious culture and teaching them as if they were mine.” Continue reading

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Bring Me Little Water [Emma’s Savasana Songs + Free Download]

Cowboy Plumbing- Toronto National Forest by Al_HikesAZThis song is called “Bring Me Little Water Sylvie” and was written by American folk and blues musician Lead Belly. It has been performed and recorded by many groups. Some of my favourite recordings are by Sweet Honey in the Rock and The Wailin’ Jennys.

I love the quality of soft yearning this song evokes. I usually sing it at the end of classes when there is a strong quality of stillness. I hope you enjoy my version of this song! Continue reading

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Om Mani Padme Hum (Emma’s Savasana Songs + Free Download)

This post is brought to you by Emma. Listen to her recording of the song below, and read on about her personal connection to this particular mantra.

Om Mani Padme Hum

In university I was deeply interested in Tibetan Buddhism. I began to study with a Buddhist nun at the Kitchener Public Library every week. In my third year of university I was fortunate enough to participate in a study-abroad program at a spiritual community in Northern Scotland. Right across the road from the wind turbines, green roofs and colourful gardens of the Findhorn Foundation community, was the Shambhala Retreat Centre, a Tibetan Buddhist meditation centre. Every morning I rose early and walked down the gravel path to attend meditation in the colourful meditation hall. It was at the Shambhala Retreat Centre that I learned the Om Mani Padme Hum chant, and connected it to my meditation practice. Continue reading

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In This Heart (Emma’s Savasana Songs + Free Download)

This post is brought to you by Emma!

Just before Christmas, I spent an afternoon in a friend’s basement recording studio. QSY students have been asking me for years to record the songs that I sing for them in savasana. I recorded five songs, and will be releasing them periodically here on the blog. Each song will be available as a free download, a gift from the studio to each of you. Thank you for being such consistent and caring members of our studio community!

Continue reading