The Inner Music of Yoga
by de Vie
Part 1 in The Yoga of Music series
There is a secret place within you where only you can go. It belongs to you alone. No other can trespass there. Because it is within you, it is nowhere and everywhere. It is a place that every sound strikes but where none will remain. It contains the only true silence. That place within you is your true home. It is the place that all yoga is leading you to. It cannot be stolen, it cannot be killed, it cannot be removed, it cannot be irrevocably covered up, it cannot be terminated.
There is a certain kind of music that takes you there, to that secret place, to that singular home hidden at the center of your very own being. That certain kind of music is the physiological song humming in your body. Your body – your human body, exactly as it is right now – is humming with music. Your breath, heart, and nervous system are in an intricate dance of perceivable audible rhythm that comprises your current stream of aliveness.
“The movement of Energy (Prana) in the body is an expression of Nada.”(1)
The body is not silent, and only death will make it so. Subtle bodily sound, though largely ignored, is nonetheless pervasive. The only empirical silence is that of The Witness. The body receives sound vibration and emits sound vibration. The breath is the essential and primary human instrument. An amazing quality of the human organism is that we can readily, easily and almost effortlessly affect, through mental will, the flow of our breath. Before we even consciously utter a sound – even the foremost sound of breath-made-audible to our own ears (in ujjayi breath for example) – our choice of how (or whether) to meter out the rhythm of the breath is a musical choice. Rhythm is the core of music and it is the fundamental music. A tone is simply a condensation of a rhythm–a certain oscillating waveform perceived as solidified sound.
“We begin to appreciate that consciousness exists in our nervous system in the form of a constant, ongoing, electrical activity, which is essentially rhythmic and musical in nature.”(2)
Really, all of life is yoga: the movement towards union, towards wholeness. And when you do hatha yoga, the yoga of the body, the yoga of the physical, you become aware of and affect that inner music of your body. You consciously participate in the rhythm of life, the rhythm of your body’s moment-based vitality. Your breath changes, you change your breath, and you “tune in” to your breath. Your heartbeat fluctuates with the structure of your practice. It speeds up through the rise of tension and strain in your muscles, it slows down with the luminous rest of savasana. You can perceive or hear the pulse of your blood in various parts of your body (chest, throat, ears, genitals, etc.) at different times according to physical and emotional variables. The flow and flux of your will and awareness, once they dance with breath and heartbeat, compose the individual private symphony of your yoga practice on a given day, in a given hour. This is the soul of your practice, interdependent with your asana play. And beyond: your breath (prana) is essentially and harmonically connected to the entire environmental earthly realm… as well as necessarily THE WHOLE of Existence, known and unknown: the law of intrinsic interconnectedness, breathing within you. The inner music of your personal yoga is immutably connected to the unending song of the cosmos.
“Nada is the sweet, divine music of the gods reverberating in the inner space; it is the sound of the chidakasha, the space of Consciousness.”(3)
The branch of yoga explicitly employing your experience with sound and music in order to facilitate the consciousness of union (wholeness) is termed Nada Yoga. This can be a process of tuning in to the inner sound — of shifting from outer to inner focus, in remembrance that your ears can listen inward.
“Nada is found within.
It is a music without strings which plays in the body.
It penetrates the inner and the outer
and leads you away from illusion.” ~ Kabir
Here is a very easy way to step into nada yoga, the yoga of sound, the journey of the experience of oneness via the method of sound. Stick your fingers in your ears, get still, and listen. You will find that your body is full of sound. When engaging only your listening, without willfully creating any sound, you are able to attune yourself to anahata: the “unstruck sound” inside you. Not coincidently, anahata is the name of the heart chakra. It is there within your heart chakra that the kingdom of celestial music (which no worldly orchestra can perform) resides.
“There are many kinds of nadas, resembling such things as the beating of the waves of the sea, the roll of thunder, the rippling of a stream, the rattle of a speeding train, the sound of an airplane in the distance, and the crackle of a funeral pyre. I started to hear many different sounds of this kind; sometimes I heard many voices chanting the divine Name, sometimes the sounds of the mridang and kettledrum, sometimes the solemn and sacred sound of the conch, sometimes the mighty peals of huge bells suggesting the chanting of Om, sometimes the sweet singing of the vina and other stringed instruments. I also heard the sounds of honeybees, bumblebees, and other insects, the calling of the peacock in the jungle at dawn, and the cries of the cuckoo and other birds. … Then there were various indistinct sounds in the space within the heart. I heard one after the other–the grades of nada: chin-chin, chinchina, the bell, the conch, the vina, the cymbals, the flute, the mridang, the kettledrum, and thunder. In this way, I heard the ten divine sounds one after another. I became immersed in the new ecstasy that came with these sounds.” ~ on Nadaloka.(4)
These apparently foreign realms of internal music are of a nature that reveal themselves to the devoted nada yogi. In the unutterable space in which they emerge, a sonic nectar of undefinably subtle and intricate proportions perfumes the auditory consciousness of the yogi. As with someone who has never been in the ocean and smelled the salt of the undulating waves, it is an act of pointing at the moon to attempt to speak of this realm. The experience of the moon is not in the pointing, just as any practice of yoga, including any asana, is not the purpose of the yoga. The purpose of the yoga is the transcendental reality of absolute consciousness which necessarily and unequivocally shatters all pre-existing methods and structures. The inherent nature of “the moon” that any yoga points to must inevitably relinquish the method that brought you to it.
. . . One of the primary aspects of yoga is that it help you KNOW THYSELF. You are not the fluctuations. You are not your breath, heartbeat, or nervous system. You are not your body. And, you are not ANY sound, of any origin. Sound by its design is a fluctuation. It exists because it fluctuates. To know The Knower — to know The Witness — to glimpse that absolute unchanging Abiding — that is to know the only real Silence. The Witness is that point of utter silence.
“Why this emphasis on feeling that you are in the center? Because in the center there is no sound. The center is without sound, that is why you can hear sounds; otherwise you could not hear them. … Because you are soundless at your center, you can hear sounds. The center is absolute silence.” ~ Osho
Just as the movements of hatha yoga facilitate the savasana release of the end, so also nada yoga and its methods of exploiting sound-awareness facilitate the entrance into that Silence. The Witness is Pure Consciousness, devoid of variance. To observe the inner sounds of your body is to step closer to recognizing the Pure Consciousness that you are.
“Love is the music, the music is our intentions made manifest, our listening opens the gateway to massive transformation and healing, our participation in life as it is unfolding is our Yoga, that Yoga is our offering, namaste.” ~ Libby Weintraub
Just as there is no true escape from the body, the world of sound is omnipresent. While we can close our eyes to vision, there is no complete physiological retreat from sound. Even in deafness one experiences various sounds as physical vibrations reverberating in the fluid of flesh. Every moment, your body is not merely existing; it is also expressing its flow and presence to you in a musical language of rhythm, harmony, and resonance. Your yoga sadhana is, of course, the perfect time to listen to, participate in, and revel in the discovery of the very real, tangible, and revelatory inner music of your ever-evolving gift of embodied life.
~ © 2010 de Vie
… de Vie is a yogini, musician, poet, emerald alchemist, & artist. She can be reached at (520) 495-2005 (song voicemail) and <deViemusic@yahoo.com>. Some of her various online offerings are found at:
: thought-form scroll: www.twitter.com/yourdeVie
: spacehook-diary: www.facebook.com/yourdeVie
1 “Nada Yoga – outer and inner,”
2 ”Music in the Tantric Tradition,” Dr. Swami Karmananda Saraswati,
3 p. 161, Play of Consciousness, Swami Muktananda
4 p. 185, Play of Consciousness, Swami Muktananda
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