Sunday, August 21, 2005

Yoga, by Heart

My daughter, the 5th-grader, goes back to school tomorrow. We met her new teacher today. Excitement and dread abound.

Of course the age-old question that has plagued students for generations is now resounding in the heads of school children everywhere. "Is this going to be on the test?"

Sound familiar? I remember it well.

It betrays what we all thought at least once back then. "This is absolutely useless to me. So all I need to do is memorize it long enough to regurgitate it back on the test. Then I can forget it."

This was all driven home to me yesterday at choir practice.

When I sold my yoga center about a year and a half ago, I told everyone that one of the things I wanted to do was sing in a choir. I haven't sang in choir since I was a high school senior, back in 1979. That's a long time ago.

I finally joined the choir and sang with them for the first time Friday night. We'll see how long they keep me.

The choir director said yesterday that how you feel about a song has a major impact on the beauty of your performance.

She also said there's a huge difference between learning a song by heart and learning a song by rote.

For example, she said that throughout the many years of her childhood piano lessons she had memorized dozens of songs for recitals. Now as an adult, she can't play a single one.

But she remembers every word, every phrase, and every nuance of some songs she learned as far back as 4th grade...because she learned those songs by heart. She loved those songs.

She stood there in front of us and sang one out from memory, without a flaw. She learned that song by heart.

Do you practice yoga at home? Or do you just take yoga lessons now and then?

See the difference? If you simply go to yoga classes, you can, if you want to, follow along and do what you're asked and never internalize the lessons you might apply to enrich your life when your teacher's not around.

Or you can take yoga to heart. What you learn by heart is yours to keep 'til the day you die, whether you ever darken the door of a yoga studio again, or not. It's yours.

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry

p.s., I think that learning by rote "because I have to" is one of the reasons yoga students have such difficulty learning the Sanskrit names of the yoga poses. That's why I designed the Experience Sanskrit workshop. When you participate in the Experience Sanskrit workshop, you get experiences. Those experiences are designed to make the names of yoga poses hard to forget. What makes them hard to forget is the emotional connections and images you establish as we play together and do yoga.

The next Experience Sanskrit workshop will be held on Saturday, November 5th at Surya Center for Yoga in Coppell, TX, near the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. Tuition is $50 for the 4-hour workshop. And you get a 100-page course manual to use and take home. It's included free with your enrollment.

Want to know more about the Experience Sanskrit workshop? Want to bring the Experience Sanskrit to your yoga studio? See . Then email me at We'll set a date and we'll be at your place before you know it.

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