There’s a lot of angst and anxiety zipping through the air these days. A considerable amount of energy, positive and negative, surrounds the issue of impeachment, the upcoming elections, Brexit, China, the border wall, global warming, the list goes on and on and on. Our planet and we who inhabit this beautiful blue-green rock are entering another revolution of sorts.
Unraveling and resolving these dilemmas requires a level of understanding, communication and action not yet experienced by humanity. These subjects require new multidimensional thinking, as opposed to our current binary, linear, problem-goal rational. If we continue entertaining and applying the win-lose equation, these difficulties will be insurmountable. Only with a win-win approach, when embraced and executed, will humanity move into a new age of enlightenment. The best minds of all nations must begin contemplating and discussing how to grasp and improve our understanding of the complex nature of our lives, our countries, our planet, and how to advance our interaction with these multifaceted matters.
Don’t these concerns mirror our relationship with our yoga practice? If the socio-planetary issues are our macrocosm, then aren’t our yoga mats our microcosm of personal anxiety and angst? Don’t we come to our mats to communicate with our minds and bodies for a more in-depth understanding? But aren’t we still engaging linearly towards personal agendas? Can binary thinking get us closer to the Atman? Can a win-lose scenario on our mats assist us in discovering who we are?
Until the time arrives, when individually and collectively, we learn to approach unrest with equanimity, what is one to do? I say embrace this new revolution. I say join the uprising of our plant and mats. How? By introducing battle hymns to our lives that will support the expansion of our consciousness. What? Battle hymns, you say? Yes, battle hymns, music to motivate engagement with our minds, breath, bodies, country and planet.
What is a battle hymn? On the surface, battle hymn appears to be an oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp. If you search for a definition, there is no definition. I choose to define a battle hymn as words, whether spoken or sung, that lift the individual spirit to a higher plane from where a struggle can be wholly witnessed and personally integrated while inspiring a compatible outcome. Battle hymns inspire emotions and action.
To stimulate cultural engagement while deepening my yoga practice, I created a 2020 battle hymn playlist, which I listen to during my Friday asana session. This list was compiled to evoke compassion for my struggles and the struggles of the planet and to broaden my awareness and understanding of my contribution to a win-win outcome. Just as I witness and internalize my thoughts, breath and postures, I actively listen, accept and co-opt the songs, intending to leave the mat renewed in mind, body and spirit. With rekindled physical, emotional and spiritual energies, I optimistically participate openly and compassionately during frustrating encounters with the world and my dark moments and thoughts.
Here’s my Friday playlist. There is ample music to inspire; however, reggae music, especially, by Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, with their commentaries on political, social and economic injustices and their celebration of the defiant human spirit that refuses suppression, is my go-to for soul inspiration. I put the list on shuffle, so even though the songs are the same, I hear them at different times during my practice. Perhaps a song plays while I am opening my chest in Ustrasana (camel pose), and another Friday it plays as I am standing in Vriksasana (tree pose) — both poses require different amounts of concentration, breath and intention, the song opens another layer equally emotional and physical.
Soul Rebel– Bob Marley – Songs of Freedom (1992)
I Am That I Am– Peter Tosh –Equal Rights (1977)
One Foundation– The Wailers – Burnin’ (1973)
Jah Guide– Peter Tosh – Equal Rights (1977)
Positive Vibration– Bob Marley and the Wailers – Rastaman Vibration (1976)
Get Up, Stand Up– Peter Tosh – Equal Rights (1977)
Jah Live– Bob Marley and the Wailers – Rastaman Vibration (1976)
Mystic Man– Peter Tosh – Mystic Man (1979)
Jah Is Mighty– Bob Marley – Songs of Freedom (1992)
Equal Rights– Peter Tosh – Equal Rights (1977)
Thank You, Lord– Bob Marley and the Wailers – Peter Tosh / Bob Marley Wisdom (1998)
The Day The Dollar Die– Peter Tosh – Mystic Man (1979)
Wake Up and Live– Bob Marley and the Wailers – Survival (1979)
The Poor Man Feel It– Peter Tosh – Wanted Dread and Alive (1981)
Wisdom– Bob Marley and the Wailers – Peter Tosh / Bob Marley Wisdom (1998)
Could You Be Loved– Bob Marley and the Wailers – Uprising (1980)
Fools Die– Peter Tosh – Wanted Dread and Alive (1981)
Sun is Shining– Bob Marley and the Wailers – Kaya (1978)
Come Together– Peter Tosh – No Nuclear War (1987)
Lively Up Yourself– Bob Marley and the Wailers – Natty Dread (1974)
Legalize It– Peter Tosh – Legalize It (1976)
Kaya– Bob Marley and the Wailers – Kaya (1978)
Bush Doctor– Peter Tosh – Bush Doctor (1978)
Nah Goa Jail– Peter Tosh – No Nuclear War (1987)
So if you’d like to take your Warrior poses to the next level, play these songs the next time you’re on the mat. If my playlist doesn’t float your boat, any music will work as long as it invigorates your body, uplifts your spirit, ignites compassion and facilitates solutions never imagined.