Monday, February 23, 2009

Kashudo (歌手道): The Master-Apprentice and Bikram Yoga

My dear readers,

Activity in Europe has been fulfilling thus far. Encounters with very special singers, and personal development as well have been the exciting hallmark of this trip. I am barely half-way and overwhelmed by the amount of information I have amassed. I will share all with you in due course. I beg your patience because my internet access is in some ways limited because I cannot connect with my own computer on a regular basis.

Today I wish to share with you the humbling and affirming experience of Bikram Yoga. Although I studied Kung Fu when I was in graduate school, it was not for long and the priorities of life over the last 15 years have all but erased my martial arts experience. I use to take pride in the fact that at least I preserved the Tai Chi part of the experience but when a student who is studying Kung Fu invited me for a session at her dojo, I quickly realized that I had lost that too. Now in Berlin, a dear friend and student influenced me to take up Bikram Yoga. It was an attractive proposition because I always wanted to find physical flexibility. After three sessions that range from the torturous to the pleasurable, I have come to find Bikram Yoga indispensible to my work as a singer. Hence I recommend it highly.

In a Bikram Yoga class, everyone is equal and everyone performs the same exercises. The emphasis is on form. Mastery is achieved over many years of performing the same forms with increased awareness, strength, flexibility and grace. Sounds familiar?!

My study of Bikram Yoga has already made me aware of how much I did not really know myself. It is a humbling discovery of what I am not able to do and an affirming one of what I am able to accomplish. The new awareness of my body, my core strength, my flexibility (or lack thereof) all reduce me to the level of "apprentice". Yes beside being a teacher, I am also an apprentice.

Singing, like Yoga is an art of precision and discipline. Singing depends in great part on the strength and flexibility of our bodies. Having become humbled by my new physical awareness, I realize that mastery of anything is relative. Bikram makes me aware that I can breathe better. Hence I am a beginner. Bikram makes me aware that I can be physically more balanced. Therefore I am a beginner. Bikram makes me realize that I can be stronger. Hence I am a beginner.

The teacher is an eternal student of the art form. As previously expressed in the first "Kashudo" post, singing is an art that requires body, brain and spirit. In the body area, I could learn much more. The Bikram Yoga teacher that I had the first day said it was obvious that I knew how to breathe. She was not surprised that I was a singer. Paradoxically, what I learned is that I could breathe a lot better than I do.

The work never stops. The teacher must look at the least experience student as a master, because that student brings a mastery of some aspect of his/her life. The teacher also sees himself as a student of the art who realizes with each knew advancement that he is an apprentice, that the path is eternal and that joy is in the continuous humiity of realizing how infinite our potential is and how much further the objective seems the more adept we get.

I would like to thank the Soprano, Rebecca Fromherz, a uniquely gifted singer and human being, for introducing me to Bikram Yoga and thereby adding a new layer to my eternal apprenticeship.

© 02/23/2009

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