Planetary Polyrhythms

Friends,

We love polyrhythms—complex rhythms created out of a mix of simple rhythms. Probably the simplest polyrhythm is the three-against-two rhythm that’s at the heart of so much of our favorite world music. Tap your right hand to a two-beat and your left hand to a three-beat. Each hand follows its own rhythm, but they always come back together for the one.

Our team has been moving to different rhythms since our beautiful retreat in January. But soon we’ll come back together on the one.

In this case the one happens at the apex of a global rhythm—Earth’s trip around the sun. We’re thrilled to be able to do a very special RhythmAsana Summer Solstice Celebration at the Unitarian Fellowship of Corvallis on Tuesday, June 20–Summer Solstice evening. We think our unique blend of movement meditation, gentle yoga, dance, and heart-opening live music might just be the perfect way to say good night to the sun on the longest day of the year. Check out the details below, along with information about several other RhythmAsana-related events between now and then:

Johanna has several CD Release events scheduled to coincide with the release of her brand new album Beyond Love. She’ll be singing, playing, and leading chants in Corvallis (this Friday), Portland, Vancouver Hood River, Salem, Eugene, and Breitenbush Hot Springs before she heads south toward ShaktiFest, where she’ll officially release the album with many of the kirtan luminaries who are featured on the recording.

• On May 21 Lea will lead a very special workshop to help you Manifest Your Heart’s Desire. Activate your natural powers of nature, dreaming, imagination, play, movement, community, breath and body to become a joyful creator of life.

George will be playing with the New World Kirtan Band on Friday, May 12 (and the second Friday of most months), The following night (and the second Saturday of most months)  he’ll be the DJ for Planet Boogie, Corvallis’s popular Freestyle world music dance.

There’s way too much to list here so be sure to check our web sites (rhythmasana.comjohannasings.comleabayles.com) for details.

Looking forward to singing, dancing, moving, and just being with you soon,

George for Lea, Johanna, and Lyris

RhythmAsana Returns—but When?

Many of you have been asking when we’re going to be moving into deep joy together again. It’s been far too long since we’ve done the RhythmAsana thing. We’ve been patiently waiting for Johanna’s year of perpetual touring to wind down. The good news is that we’re almost there; she’ll be back in Oregon in November, and she’ll be around at least long enough to do a couple of RhythmAsana sessions at Lea’s gorgeous country studio near Philomath before we head up to Breitenbush Hot Springs for our sweet end-of-January weekend retreat.

We’re looking forward to RA mini-retreats on December 4 and January 8. Both Sunday events will be two hours long—plenty of time to journey from stillness to joyous abandon and back. The question is: Which two hours? Johanna will be immersed in advanced yoga teacher training during the afternoon, so we’re suggesting two possible times for these mini-workshops: 10:30AM to 12:30PM or 6:30PM to 8:30PM. We can do either time. Can you?

Please send a quick note to george@rhythmasana.com with your preferences. To make it easy, list one of the following four choices (or something else) for each date,

10:30 / 6:30 / either is fine / doesn’t matter because I probably won’t be there anyway.

For example, your reply might be

Dec 3 10:30

Jan 8 either

We’ll plan based on what we hear from you.

One more thing: Now’s the time to sign up for our January 27–29 Breitenbush weekend retreat. If you reserve your spot soon you’ll get your pick of the housing options AND a $40 early-bird discount. Breitenbush is full pretty much all the time these days, so it’s important to reserve your spot as soon as you can by calling 503-854-3320. See http://breitenbush.com/events/jan27-29.html for more information.

We’re all excited about getting together with you again, and we’re ever-grateful for your support and friendship.

Rhythmically yours,

George for Lea, Johanna, and Lyris

Moving into Deep Joy

One evening nearly a year ago, a feeling caught up with me

I realized something was missing. It wasn’t a feeling of unhappiness or of sadness.  It was a longing. Not a longing for more things or ideas or entertainment or distraction. A subtle longing for something I didn’t have words for.

Curious, I dropped inside,
felt the slight aching in my heart,
softened to give it more room,
sensed breath flowing in and through and
gently waited….

Soon the answer came.

I was missing dance and movement play.

More particularly, I was hungry  for the sort of danceplay and movement groups I had been leading until a weird inflammatory illness five years ago before stopped me. My symptoms redirected me to focus on healing my body and cultivating vitality from a deeper, more sustainable source.

Then, as I was feeling strong and healthy and vibrant again, this longing arose to guide me to the next step.

Ahhh, Thank you. I get it.  Time to find my way into sacred, playful movement leadership again. I felt the peace and clarity and the deep joy of landing into the wisdom of longing. There was a sense of trust it would happen, even though the “how” was unknown.

A few day later, as if by magic, my dear friend George called to ask if I was interested in taking over as movement guide and teacher for RhythmAsana, an innovative and revitalizing program he co-developed.

RhythmAsana blends yoga, playful dance, creative movement play, drumming and live world beat music by incredible musicians.

Perfect.

The tagline of RhythmAsana is Moving into Deep Joy.

Even more perfect.

Two invitations for you:

Invitation Number One: Embrace Your Longings
Notice if perhaps you are also feeling a longing: a body sensation or small voice asking you to listen more deeply, eager to guide you more fully into the joy of being who you really are.
I think of this sort of soul longing as Divine Discontentment.
What is your Divine Discontentment calling you into now? Something to learn, embrace, transform or, perhaps, let go of?

Invitation Number Two: Move Into Your Deep Joy with RhythmAsana

Come move and play and celebrate with us! All levels and all abilities are so very welcome.
Saturday November 21 10:30-noon Unitarian Universalist Fellowship 2945 NW Circle Blvd Corvallis Oregon. RhythmAsana’s luminous lead singer and songwriter, Johanna, will be in our hometown this one weekend as part of her west coast tour. If you are anywhere in the area, please join us.

January 29-31 2016 Moving into Deep Joy: Winter Retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs, Oregon. Harmonious and playful blends of yoga, movement, meditation, dance, drumming and singing will open our bodies and hearts to joy and connect us with our inner selves and with our global community. Revel in this rejuvenating retreat center set in majestic, magical old growth forests with rustic -and comfortable!- cabins, natural hot spring pools, extensive trails and a rushing river. All levels and abilities welcome. Sign up soon to get early bird discount and your choice of cabins. Click here for more information.

Blessings and love,
Lea

PS A few comments from recent RhythmAsana participants “RhythmAsana is the one of THE most joy-generating things I have ever done!” “A wonderful experience! I can’t wait to do it again!”  “An unexpected awakening of joyful depths … community moving as one.” “I feel like I reconnected to soul and heart and body.”

PPS Click here  to listen to some of Johanna’s heart-opening music, including her brand new CD.

Lea Bayles, M.A. Holistic Wellness Consultant, Author, Speaker
www.LeaBayles.com

(this post first appeared in Lea’s blog.)

New Season, New Album

We hope you’ve had a joyous summer. We’ve missed you.

We’ve got some big news to share with you as we launch our fall season. We recently did the first of what we hope will be many RhythmAsana events at the Corvallis Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. The next RhythmAsana Live event will happen Saturday, November 20 at 10:30AM. We wanted to do something sooner, but we have to wait until Johanna completes the bulk of her One Heart One Soul Tour with Mike Cohen. The two of them will be doing kirtan, Lullaby Yoga, classes, and workshops up and down the West Coast starting with a kirtan in Seattle this weekend. You can see details of the tour on JohannaSings.com.

The tour will introduce much of the West Coast of the US to music from Johanna’s brand new (and long overdue) kirtan album, Heart Beats One. If you’ve attended any of our events over the past year, you’ve no doubt heard Johanna’s soulful interpretations of chants from the traditions of yoga. This collection of those songs features several luminaries from the global kirtan community: Gina Sala, Ben Leinbach, Benjy Wertheimer, Jaya Lakshmi, Ananda, Hans Christian, Daniel Paul, Girish, and more. Johanna is also joined on the CD by Lyris, George, and many other musicians who’ve played and sung with her up and down the Willamette Valley. Musicians, yoga teachers, and others who’ve heard the early release have responded with high praise: stellar… gorgeous… beautiful… magical… mystical… sweet… healing… haunting… amazing… extraordinary….

You can read more about the album and hear sample tracks at JohannaSings.com. You can buy the CD or download tracks there; it’s also available on CD Baby and iTunes. Or better yet, pick up a copy in person at one of her live events. While you’re at it, consider buying multiple copies at discount rates on CD Baby or in person. It’s not too early to think about holiday gifts….

Speaking of gifts, why not give yourself the gift of deep joy? Breitenbush Hot Springs is taking reservations now for the January 29– 31 RhythmAsans weekend retreat. This super-sweet event offers the opportunity to dive deep into the joy of RhythmAsana with Lea, George, Johanna, and guest musicians. We expect this one to sell out early, so don’t wait too long to call Breitenbush (503-854-3320) to make your reservation.

We’ve got other news in the making, but we can save that for later. We’ll keep you posted here and on facebook.com/rhythmasana. (Please Like us if you like us.) In the meantime, we’re wishing you an extraordinary autumn.

George and the RhythmAsana Team

RhythmAsana and the Rhythms of Change

Every day we build our lives on rhythms. The sun came up yesterday and today; I naturally assume that it will rise again tomorrow. My heart has been steadily beating for decades; I plan my activities assuming that it will keep pumping today. And on and on. But everything changes over time. Sometimes we need to move to a new pulse.
RhythmAsana isn’t immune to the inevitable changes of the rhythms of life.When Angela Grace Greenwood and I launched RhythmAsana three years ago, we didn’t even know what to call it. We just knew there was something special about the blend of yoga, movement, dance, and world music that we concocted. And we weren’t alone. Over the course of those three years, RhythmAsana has touched and moved hundreds of people, taking them into the depths of their inner worlds and peaks of communal joy.Throughout those years, RhythmAsana has been nurtured and guided by its two parents, drawing what it needed from each of us. Along the road to maturity it developed an extended family of musicians. Johanna BeekmanLyris Cooper, and others helped turn the RhythmAsana experience into even more of a magical mystery tour. The RhythmAsana team wasn’t just George and Angie anymore.Still, Angie has been at the center of every RhythmAsana event since the beginning—teaching, encouraging, inspiring the rest of us on our shared journey into deep joy. So when Angie told me she was stepping back from her role as co-leader to focus on Angela Grace Yoga and other matters, it was hard to imagine how RhythmAsana might go on. But it was even harder to imagine RhythmAsana not going on at all.

Sometimes when a rhythm fades it frees you to feel another pulse that was there all along.

Years ago I explored collaborating with one of my all-time favorite yoga/dance/movement/spirit teachers. But both of us were busy and we left the conversation unfinished. Until now. It took just one phone call for me to know that the rhythms would continue. Lea Bayles was joining our team.

Many of you know Lea from her inspired work as a movement catalyst, teacher, author, and performer. Her dynamic, playful, practical, and mystical approach to teaching has helped people of all ages and abilities connect with their inner creative joy and healing power. With education, experience, and expertise in mind-body psychology, healing arts, a wide variety of dance forms, energy medicine, yoga, yoga therapy, and chi-kung, Lea is amazingly qualified to lead people on their RhythmAsana journeys into deep joy.

So the RhythmAsana team evolves. Angie hasn’t ruled out doing an occasional RhythmAsana event if and when our pulses sync up. In any case, I will be forever grateful for all that she gave to make our RhythmAsana dream real. Angie is a uniquely gifted yogi, dancer, teacher, healer, and guide, and I have no doubt that her many gifts will serve her well on her sacred journey into the future.

Lea, Johanna, Lyris, and I know that RhythmAsana will continue to evolve as we explore new pathways into deep joy through movement. We look forward to moving with you along those pathways.

And the beat goes on….

The new RhythmAsana team makes its official debut on 7:00PM Sunday, March 8, at the Unitarian Fellowship in Corvallis for a Kirtan and Movement Meditation with Johanna Beekman and Rhythmantra. The band, joined by Eugene flautist Vince Mcclellan and Corvallis guitarist Sid Rosen, will provide a backdrop for a kirtan led by Johanna and some gentle movement meditations led by Lea. The evening should be a sweet introduction for those who are curious about what we do.
Then at 11:00AM on Saturday, April 4, we’ll bring back RhythmAsana Live at Downtown Dance in Corvallis. Lea and the band will continue the RhythmAsana tradition with 90 minutes of moving into deep joy through shared rhythms. (You can get in the mood the night before at 7:00PM at Live Well Studio with Johanna’s restorative Lullaby Yoga class. It’s RhythmAsana’s sleepy sibling.)

And we’re booked to provide kirtan, RhythmAsana, and ritual music for the big Breitenbush Summer Solstice Healing Retreat. This gigantic event will almost certainly sell out soon (if it hasn’t already). Visit Breitenbush.com now if you’re interested in attending.

Please check back here regularly for updates, like us on Facebook, and (most of all) come move with us.
With deepest gratitude,
George

Neurophysiology of Deep Joy

If you’ve spent time with me over the last couple of years, there’s a good chance you’ve been amused or annoyed by my clumsy attempts to put the RhythmAsana experience into words. There’s something about the Deep Joy of RhythmAsana that transcends the verbal plane. And if it’s hard to describe the “what” of the RhythmAsana experience, it’s even harder to explain “why.” What causes the Deep Joy?

When I heard Dave Stringer talk about the neurophysiology of kirtan a few weeks ago, I wasn’t thinking about RhythmAsana. Like everyone else in the room, I was focused on kirtan—the call-and-response chanting often associated with yoga. But when he described the effects of kirtan on the human nervous system, I suddenly found myself listening to his words on two parallel levels. The kirtan musician in me appreciated his insights into the effect of group chanting on the brain. But my inner RhythmAsanator realized that he might just as easily have been talking about RhythmAsana.

I can’t hope to capture the depth and breadth of Dave’s wonderful presentation in these few paragraphs; if you want the whole story you’ll need to go to the source. But, at the risk of oversimplifying, I will share with you one small part of the talk that seemed particularly relevant to our journey.

As you may know, each of us has two nervous systems: The parasympathic nervous system, which is typically associated with inner peace and rest, and the sympathetic nervous system, which is associated with excitement.

In a typical kirtan, the group starts by chanting (and breathing) slowly together. Most people find this experience deeply peaceful, probably because they’re stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. As a chant speeds up and the energy rises, hearts pulse faster and, in all likelihood, sympathetic nervous systems are activated. But because the group is still chanting and breathing together, there’s still a shared sense of inner peace. The end result, according to Dave, is that kirtan is one of the few human activities that activates both nervous systems simultaneously, producing a unique and powerful experience.

This theory may not (yet) be lab-tested and peer-reviewed, but it has a ring of truth to it. And it seems to apply to the RhythmAsana experience, too. We start by breathing and/or singing together; we move through gentle, slightly rhythmic yoga poses into group movements with more of a pulse, then into high-energy dance. Because of the gradual flow from restful to energetic, and because of the shared movements to a common pulse, we maintain a sense of deep peace and comfort while at the same time feeling waves of excitement and bliss. It’s an amazing space to explore together.

I don’t know whether the two-nervous-systems theory truly explains what’s happening here. It might be at least part of the reason we feel so good when we do RhythmAsana—and often, for long periods of time after we’ve moved back into our day-to-day lives.

I do know that there’s something profound about sharing space, time, and movement with others in this way is very special. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to do it with you.

—George

PS. Angela likes to explain the power of RhythmAsana using the Hindu concept of anandamaya kosha. I love that explanation, too. But that will have to wait for a future blog….

RhythmAsana in Motion

RhythmAsana is, at its core, all about movement and music. Movement and music are, by their very nature, kinetic. You can’t have movement without change, and you can’t have music without movement. So it’s no surprise that RhythmAsana today is very different than the original RhythmAsana.

The seeds of RhythmAsana were planted when I stumbled (literately and figuratively) into Angela Grace’s Zumba class. As a drummer and a world-music lover, I was immediately taken by the high-energy beats, the global sounds, the engaging dance moves, and Angela’s joyous energy. I became a class regular, gradually liberating parts of my body, mind, and spirit that had been locked down for decades. When Angela became my yoga teacher at Live Well Studio, I had a new Saturday morning ritual: yoga, dance, bliss. After a few months, I suggested to Angela that this combination was too powerful not to share. She agreed, and RhythmAsana was born.

The early RhythmAsana (which went by a different name) was little more than my Saturday morning routine without the pesky commute from the health club to the yoga studio. It didn’t take long, though, before we were able to refine it into something much more sublime. The changes have come gradually over time, often as imperceptibly as the opening of a flower. Deeper, richer music from around the world; more powerful movement flows; creative community-building moves; fantastic free-form interludes, live drumming; and occasional live music from a the full Rhythmantra band. Those who’ve been with us throughout the journey might take these changes for granted, but people who return after being gone a while can’t help but notice that RhythmAsana is on the move.

We love the direction RhythmAsana is heading. We love the response we’re getting from those of you who are traveling with us. And we can hardly wait to see where we’re headed. If we’ve learned nothing else from RhythmAsana, we know that it’s all about moving into deep joy. And the joy just keeps getting deeper.

—George

Moving Beyond Words, Moving Beyond Stories….

After I wrote a few books I got the idea that I was pretty good at translating ideas into paragraphs. But when I try to explain RhythmAsana to the uninitiated, I’m humbled by my inability to communicate with words. Oh, it’s easy to give a thumbnail description: RhythmAsana is unique blend of yoga, guided dance, and world music. But that does nothing to explain how powerful, joyous, and transformative the RhythmAsana experience can be.

In some cases, my lack of clear communication may be a good thing. Case in point: A few months ago I told one of my yoga friends about RhythmAsana and she showed up for that weekend’s RhythmAsana class. Apparently I’d done a really bad job of describing RhythmAsana. When the music was over and we were packing up, she told me three things:
1. She really didn’t know what she was getting into.
2. If she had known, she wouldn’t have come because she doesn’t do “dance things.”
3. She loved it and she’d be back.

She was good for her word. In fact, she’ll be joining us for our Breitenbush retreat next weekend.

Her experience was dramatic, but not unique. I’ve had many people tell me variations of the same story: I didn’t know what to expect, and I was a little intimidated by the possibility that I’d be out of my comfort zone, but I’m so glad I overcame my resistance because I had a fabulous time.

Dancers tell me that they don’t do yoga. Yogis tell me they don’t dance. Runners, walkers, bikers, gardeners, and couch potatoes tell me they don’t do either. For many of those people, my blizzard of words does little to convince them of the virtues of RhythmAsana. But if they’re willing and able to get past their “I can’t dance” and “I can’t do yoga” scripts, they’re often amazed at how much fun they can pack into 90 minutes. And how good they feel as they go back into their lives. And how much they look forward to the next time they can share the RhythmAsana experience with others.

If you’re living with one of these scripts, take some encouragement from these RhythmAsana converts. Let go of your story and experience the deep joy of RhythmAsana! And bring your friends!

Is RhythmAsana Yoga?

RhythmAsana is a unique blend of familiar yoga poses—asanas—and rhythmic movement. A RhythmAsana session is a joyous journey from stillness to activity and back to stillness. Because RhythmAsana incorporates elements from a multitude of cultures, people have trouble putting a label on it. We’re occasionally asked if RhythmAsana is yoga. To answer, we first need to ask: What is yoga?

Most Westerners think of yoga as stretching, pretzel-shaped poses, new age music, and lululemon outfits. But people familiar with the underlying philosophy of yoga know that our Western view reveals only a tiny fraction of what yoga offers.  Yoga sage Patanjali wrote about eight limbs, or techniques, of yoga, only one of those tools is asana. So if yoga is more than poses, what is it?

AngieDancinginBlue

Douglas Brooks defines yoga as the virtuosity of becoming yourself. We use the tools of yoga—how we treat others, how we treat ourselves, physical poses, breath work, watching how we use our senses, focus, concentration, and meditation—to discover who we are.  We discover what makes us deeply contented and what brings a profound sense of purpose and belonging. We step into our strength, our confidence, our creative power.  By this definition, yoga happens when an artist creates or a singer is lost in song. It happens when a scientist is immersed in an experiment or a gardener ponders the quality of the soil. It happens when lovers gaze into each other’s eyes, and when we passionately debate issues of social justice.

Yoga happens when you quiet the mind enough to hear, to feel the vibrations of anadamaya kosha, the deepest energetic layer of your being. And when you catch a glimpse, hear just a few notes… let the dance begin….

—Angela

Your Winter of RhythmAsana?

Just in case you’re not on our email list (Why not?), we’re posting the main text from our latest edition. If you want to receive an occasional RhythmAsana update from us, please let us know and we’ll add you to the list. Here’s an example of what you’ll get:
.
Like most Oregonians, we’re deeply grateful for any extra sunshine we receive before the rains of Autumn arrive. We’ve enjoyed being outside during this exceptionally mild Fall. But the rain on the roof reminds us that we’re headed into a darker, colder, wetter time. Fortunately, we can warm our spirits and open our hearts with a well-crafted blend of yoga, music, dance, and community. We hope you’ll join us and make this your Winter of RhythmAsana.
The big RhythmAsana event of the Winter is, of course, the RhythmAsana Weekend Retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs in January. Breitenbush in January can be incredibly beautiful. After an extended period of stretching and moving to world music, the hot pools are especially yummy. And it’s so wonderful having time to create and deepen community connections far from the distractions of the everyday world.
To warm up for our January weekend, we’ve got RhythmAsana sessions planned in Corvallis, Albany, and Salem. We hope you’ll join us for some or all of these events. The Corvallis and Albany events are a bargain at $10 each, but you can save an additional 25 percent by purchasing a 10-session RhythmAsana Kula Card at the door.
There are two other special events that we want to share with you—one this month and one next month.
johannafrontcover
The first is the concert celebrating Johanna Beekman’s long-awaited CD, The Edge of Divine. Many of you know Johanna as the lead vocalist in the RhythmAsana Band, but she’s also a gifted songwriter and song stylist. Members of the RhythmAsana Band, along with several other talented musicians, will join her on November 23 to launch the new CD. We just received the final master of the CD, and we think it will blow you away.
In December, Angela and Lisa Wells will host Turning Into the Darkness: A Winter Solstice Yoga Retreat at Still Meadows Retreat Center. This is a fabulous opportunity to deepen your yoga, the connection to your deepest self, through a variety of techniques.  We’ll explore myth, chants, ritual, asana, dance and shaking medicine to facilitate a journey into the shadows before reemerging into the light.  You can learn more and register at livewellstudio.com.
Thanks for being part of our growing RhythmAsana community. We love hearing from you. Please visit us at RhythmAsana.com or Facebook.com/RhythmAsana.
Namaste,
George and Angela