Sadhana - YOAS Yoga Retreats

Sadhana retreats with sound & song

May 24, 2024 8:11 pm Published by

Here’s a lovely blog from Belle Greenwood about our Sadhana retreats.

Those of you who’ve joined me on YOAS retreats over many years, know that I always bring a guitar to lead you in mantra and song!

This year’s summer sadhana retreats are in July and September at the lovely Eden Rise in lush Devon. We’ll be exploring practices of asana, pranayama, meditation and yoga nidra through the prism of sound, NADA yoga including mantra and deliciously relaxing sound baths and joyful song!

In yoga, NADA is the path of ‘union through sound’. Ancient yogic teachings and modern science concur that all is vibration and this is the essence of all sound e.g. sound waves. ‘Nad’ means ‘to flow’ and involves both internal and external sound.

Internal sound, anahata means ‘un-struck’ sound (as in anahata chakra, the heart chakra). External sound or ahata means ‘struck sound’ which passes through the vocal chords/voice box.

In NADA yoga, external sounds become stepping stones to focus and quieten the mind, to begin to tune in to our inner sounds and re-discover the song of our heart, our true anahata song.

Many mantra are available to us in this process, from Bija (seed), Guru or universal mantras, Sakama mantras and Vedic mantras. It is said that no mantra is more powerful than another, that intention is all – i.e. what is in our heart. I like this analogy: ‘all the matchsticks from a box create a different flare when struck depending on the size of the tip, but they all ignite the same flame.’

Other sounds can be our stepping stones too. For example the deeply restorative sonic landscape of a healing sound bath, allowing the sound vibrations to move through each chakra, and harmonizing us on a molecular level, restoring balance and replenishing our energy.

Equally, we can use ahata sound to sing out and to express freely. This can be truly cathartic on an emotional and psychological level. And in joining our voices together, something magical happens! Slowly but surely, we harmonise into one voice, a unique voice of unity and peace from which joy flows freely – this is the meaning of NAD, to flow.

I have long known that my path/dharma on this earth has been intricately linked to my voice, especially my sung voice. 20+ years of daily mantra practice (in the Buddhism tradition of Nichiren Daishonin) continues to guide me. As a singer/songwriter, I have journeyed from total shyness of not singing a peep in front of anyone, to sessioning and touring internationally and continue on my road of freely sharing both my sung voice and song-writer voice. This definitely informs my approach and understanding to support and encourage others to discover their own voices and enjoy the process.

Since last autumn, I have been creating monthly workshops, involving both healing sound baths and song circles. Encouraging folk to explore their voices through mantra and kirtan (call and response in both Sanskrit and English). We’ve also enjoyed some simple songs, rounds and playing with harmonies – all just for the joy of it!

My inspiration has been ‘round the fireside’ song – that ancient communing and freely joining of voices around the warmth and transformative power of fire element, Agni.

I am very much looking forward to leading this year’s July & September’s Summer Sadhana weekends at Eden Rise. Alongside the daily programme, there is plenty of time to relax and enjoy Devon’s lush nature, delicious healthy meals (Charlotte, our amazing cook, truly is ‘Queen of the Kitchen’). Also, our fantastic massage team, Eden Rise’s sauna, chit chats and new friendships in the beautiful garden and fire pit for our musical evenings. Eden Rise is a truly special Sadhana homestead – it’s converted barns are like two wings of a bird surrounding a lovely garden courtyard – it offers the perfect space to be embraced and held for our time of joyful, deepening practice together.

And a note here, we all have a voice! My aim is to hold an open space to kindly explore together without judgement, a perfect place to come and let go of any ‘I can’t sing’ inner chatter and our ‘ego’ – and just give it a try!

On Sunday 2nd June, I will be leading a ‘slow-down Sunday’ workshop of yin yoga, sound bath and song circle at Siobhan Davies Studios, London SE1 where my classes are based. All welcome and no previous experience necessary and a good opportunity to meet before the sadhana weekends. Find out more here.

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