I took a chance and dipped my toes into the new experience pool with this novel way to spend a Friday night:
When life permits a Vinyasa Yoga class at Islington’s Life Centre floats my boat, and whilst perusing a recent newsletter an advert for ‘Oasis of Sound with Anne Malone and guests’ tweaked my interest button.
After a beautiful stroll from work on a lovely spring evening I was already in a pretty happy place but new things still give me a flutter of apprehension. I entered the class dressed in loose stretchy clothing with newby-dither, Anne noticed and greeted me with soft words, held hands and warmth – ok, tone set.
First task was getting as comfortable as I could with the aid of bolsters, blankets and wheat filled eye masks on the double layered yoga matts that were pre-laid; one couple even made a bed with a layer of bolsters – proper chill-fest, this I can handle.
After that Ann had us all group around the singing bowl which was filled with water and ‘sung’ to indicate what happens to the water within your body when you add sound vibrations. Basically, it’s a bit of a shakeup of those negative tense parts that should settle back down in to a more relaxed mode after a loosen up. We dipped our finger in the bowl to feel the vibes – hmmm, I’m thinking this could be ‘interesting’ but I’m still not sure if that a good or meh? thing.
Right, now down to business – lay back, relax, eye mask on and cosy toasty. Soothing wide spectrum sounds piped through the high-quality speakers, gorgeous Sanskrit vocal layers, sub bass rumbles, mid and high tones loud enough to feel through your body. This class is aptly named, it feels like a sound bath, my head and hands were tingling.
With senses heightened though lack of sight and the music and vibrations cascading around and through me I let go of the week, my worries, my insecurities and let myself be everything and nothing in the moment. After a while (I lost all sense of time) one of the guest helpers laid her hands on my shoulder’s and performed Reiki. It was a loving and gentle experience, an exchange of energy, though if I’m honest I’m probably a little uptight and on the fence to fully appreciate its benefits. In my head I was thinking ‘am I doing this right? What’s expected of me right now?’. Touch, like massage, is intimate and this was pure and lovely. That’s all you really need to know, whether you’re a believer in reiki or not.
Anyhoo, I digress. Throughout the first part of the class each person had the singing bowl laid upon their chest or solar plexus area and sung to with it. It’s a unique and wonderful experience to have the vibrations move so directly through you. I don’t think it would be right to go into too much detail about the rest of the class, part of the joy is in the unexpected sound sensations, but there were lots of lovely surprises.
I’m not sure if this resonated so profoundly with me because I’m a singer and I was really impressed on that level or because of latent hippy tendencies but I guarantee this wont be my last fix.
I left feeling like I’d had a tune up – completely chilled, uplifted and open. There was a nice mix of first timers and regulars; afterwards I forgot my usual reticence and chatted with my fellow soundscape travellers, sharing a complimentary gluten free brownie and a cuppa.
Going in my fears were ‘what if this is one of those cringe-worthy experiences where we dance around singing, clapping and chanting’ Well, it was kinda like that (though no dancing – phew!) except all the things that I’d feared were nothing to be afraid of and felt right at the time.
A couple of days later and I’m still feeling the benefits. Long may they last.
Have a listen to Anne’s Soundcloud page and there’s even an App (just look up Anne Malone in iTunes), if you’re truly converted Anne teaches at Yoga Campus.