Swami was a Dancer

Artists use concentration to perfect their art, whether it is drawing, music, dancing or writing. While creating, the sense faculties of the artist are actively engaged. Thus it can be seen that concentration and the senses are intensely related. When a musician sings a song in a sweet voice, there is concentration. When an artist paints a painting, he does so with one-pointed concentration. When the best dancer is dancing, a whole crowd can find themselves drawn into concentration. Music and dance are so integral to yoga that without them yoga is incomplete. I dance and sing constantly in my meditation room. This isn't simply art, but a form of meditation.

- Swami Kripalu

So far this blog has been concerned with how yoga practices can be beneficial to artistic processes and production or: how does yoga benefit art. But, as Swami Kripalu (or papaji, to his affectionate students) states in this quote, the links between art and yoga are far more than a one-way street. Much the job of any true Guru, Swami's quote has blown this whole topic wide open: how can our art practice support our yoga practice? How are they actually one in the same!?

Art in practice is truly be a form of meditation, in that our concentration is single-pointed and deep. Anyone deep in their artistic practice will surely have experienced this - being wholly consumed by the act of creation. Yet Swami dives even farther, daring to state that yoga without the art forms of music and dance would be incomplete! How so? It seems that he is alluding to the fact that doing something we enjoy, in his case dancing and singing can allow us to develop deep concentration, and that skill can be transposed eventually from the particular enjoyable practice to more traditional yogic forms of mediation. Also, dancing and singing are in fact meditation practices in that they necessitate sense and mental concentration; but they can also invite the practitioner to relinquish the concept of "Doing" , and be in a state of "Being". Here you are informed not by the mind, but by prana through the body (the yogic concept of energy, or chi, or life-force), and as you let go of conscious decisions and effort as to what to do, you let your body or voice be guided: like freestyle rapping or improvisational jazz! You can tap into a deeper wellspring of creativity and expression, far more vast than the mind. So, the connection between the two makes for a deeply entwined experience between effort, expression, concentration and creativity: Is it not fantastic to know you can be practicing yoga while strumming a tune?!