Saturday, March 25, 2017

Yoga Music 2017: Loscil-Electronic and Ambient Music

Endless Falls by Loscil
One of my favorite local yoga teachers, Lindsay Ashmun, got me into the by Loscil.
For a long time, I just used the title track. It begins with rainfall and builds to big sound, but I sometimes use the full recording, start to finish in class. It's meditative but not necessarily the kind of meditation that puts you to sleep. Just another frame of mind. Their latest recording, Monument Builders, is already on my wish list.

The other more "ambient" recording I use is Flying by Garth Stevenson, a double bassist.  I also use the title track and sometimes the entire album. Stevenson is big on the yoga circuit and is appearing in Wanderlust Festivals this summer.
Garth Stevenson's Flying can be found at this link.

Yoga Music 2017: Traditional Yoga Music

The Yoga Sessions by Massood Ali Kahn
Among the more classic yoga music I've been using this spring:

One of the more traditionally driven albums I've using in particular is Masood Ali Kahn's album "The Yoga Sessions: Hang with the Angels," featuring Kahn's ethereal music and guest vocalists. The track I use in class most is by Lisbeth Scott singing the Gayatri Mantra.

The words to this traditional chant to the sun are:
Om bhur bhuvah svah
tat savitur varenyam
bhargo devasya dhimahi

dhiyo yo nah prachodayat.

The eternal, earth, air, heaven
That glory, that resplendence of the sun
May we contemplate the brilliance of that light
May the sun inspire our minds.
(Translation by Douglas Brooks)

Krishna Das' Pilgrim Heart
I also use very frequently Krishna Das' "Mountain Hare Krishna" from his album Pilgrim Heart. Krishna Das is a huge name in the yoga chant scene. On this particular track, he sings with Sting (yes, Sting of The Police). The track ends beautifully with a segue into "Amazing Grace" and then back into the traditional Hare Krishna chant. In this article, also from Yoga Journal, Krishna Das talks about the value and practice of chanting, a practice the West has certainly picked up from the Eastern practices. Krishna Das is coming to the Rubin Museum for a screening of the film "One Track Heart."

Friday, March 24, 2017

Yoga Music 2017: Max Richter (A Perfect Savasana)

Image from Max Richter's website.
In yoga classes lately, I've been using electronic music and "new music" by British composer Max Richter. If you've been coming, here are the albums (and tracks) you've been hearing.

Max Richter's new "Three Worlds: Music from Woolf Works" features moody orchestral works inspired by the writing of Virginia Woolf. The tracks I use most in class are "Mrs. Dalloway in the Garden," "Mrs. Dalloway: War Anthem," "Orlando: The Tyranny of Symmetry," and "Orlando: Transformation." But on my off time, I listen endlessly to "Mrs. Dalloway: Words," which features the only recording of Virginia Woolf's voice and the last song, which is devastating but exquisitely beautiful. I got it on I-tunes.

Another Richter album I use in class is Richter's deservedly well known Recomposed, a remix of Vivaldi's Four Seasons. The track you've heard most is Summer II. And finally, Max Richter's Sleep. We've been using the first track for Savasana lately. The whole recording is eight hours. Richter worked with a neuroscientist to create this overall work and it mimics the mind flight if you actually sleep eight hours. "An experiment into how music and consciousness (And if you regularly sleep eight hours every night, you are probably not living in NYC with the rest of us.) There is also a shorter version, but I listen to the eight hour version all day long when I can. It's very sattvic, as we say

 Below is a trailer that he made when he released the album.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Yoga Class Registration at NYU!

Photo by Najmat
It's registration for Summer II Monday/Wednesday Yoga classes at the Palladium Gym.  This class will begin on Monday, July 7 and will run through Wednesday, August 6.  (Thursday classes meet once a week through August 7).

The specific course information:
PLD 350.1 Hatha Yoga M/W 5:30-6:25 pm
In-Person Registration at Coles Gym: Wednesday, July 2nd 12:00 noon-8:00 pm
On-Line Registration:  Wednesday, July 2nd 12:00 noon-8:00 pm
Online Registration link:

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Julian Barnes at Le Poisson Rouge (with pianist Angela Hewitt)

A beautiful show at LPR. I only wanted to hear more of Barnes' own work.  He read from his beautiful story based on Sibelius' life, "The Silence." Musicians in the audience (there seemed to be many) got the music jokes.  I guess, "Only God composes in C major." (Who knew?) Hewitt followed his story with Sibelius' Romance in D-flat Minor (Op. 24, No. 9). Another great piece was from Turgenev's "Fathers and Sons" with Hewitt playing Mozart's Sonata in C minor.

Best way to endure another winter chill in NYC.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New story in "Sequestrum" Magazine

Artwork from
I'm honored to have a short-short story "If Love is an Idea" published in the very new, curated online journal Sequestrum(. The artwork throughout the site is striking and reflective. "Sequestrum" means "a necrotic bone fragment, separate from standard skeletal structures." I look forward to seeing where this journal goes!

Reading Freud's "Dora" as Fiction

Ellen Gallagher's "Odalisque" 2005 considers the "male gaze" in psychotherapy. 
Last night, I attended a first class on "Freud as Fiction" led by novelist Sheila Kohler at the Center for Fiction. We're exploring five of Sigmund Freud's famous case studies through the lens of "fiction."  I'm new to reading Freud, aside from the comic references and parodies of my readings of Freud in Nabokov, who famously refers to Freud as the Viennese witchdoctor.

Last night's text was Dora: A Case of Hysteria. During my reading before class, I noticed a (truly minor) glimpse of the fascination with the "East" that dominated literary and cultural circles of the era (1905).  On page 7 of my Touchstone edition, Freud lists (with self-conscious literary flair) reasons why his case study of "Dora" is incomplete, concluding: "In the face of the incompleteness of my analytic results, I had no choice but to follow the example of those discoverers whose good fortune it is to bring to light of day after their long burial the priceless through mutilated relics of antiquity.  I have restored what is missing, taking the best models known to me from other analyses; but like a conscientious archaeologist, I have not omitted to mention in each case where the authentic parts end and my constructions begin. 

His main point in using this metaphor is "incompleteness."  While this minor aside could have been referencing any number of archaeological locations (my gut says East), what strikes me as relevant is the power of who gets to "preserve" and shape the standing narrative.  Unlike the earlier archeologists Freud compares himself to (and/or because he is "unburying" a person within his own culture), Freud more ably recognizes the vulnerability of his subject enough to at least state he wants to be sensitive and "conscientious," to not let his conjectures overshadow the "authentic" realities of the case.  (Authenticity is such a pet term for Orientalists). Yet, part of Kohler's lively discussion at the CFF considered how Freud's narrative framing and his presumed integration of "fact" and "conjecture," reveal a great deal more of Freud's own anxieties and habits are revealed his presumed "case study" of Dora. (I kept thinking, also, of Boswell and Johnson.)

In the text, Freud states that part of his goal in writing Dora is to build credibility for his previously published dream theory.  Freud, like the archeologists he mentions, is unable to see the whole partly because his own ambition is too visible.  While much is gained  by his trying, how much should the subject pay?

What I took from reading this text and the discussion is a new glimpse of Freud (the man and the habits of newly invented practice) and a glimpse into power structures of men and women and children in turn-of-the-century Vienna.  Like the classic Orientalists  and despite Freud's supposedly earnest intent, the bias and limitations of time and place shaped what Freud could see; and we as readers (who provide one more layer of this gaze at poor Dora) are equally bound by the limitations of 2014.

But....the focus of the class is Dora as fiction, and in this way the book is such a great read with the plot twists, doubles, and reversals that also mark Nabokov's fiction.  I kept seeing connections with Lolita: numerous references to one's "train of thought," the very self-conscious phrases in French and Latin, the numerous lake scenes, the accident of Herr K after Dora makes her charges of transgression to him and Frau K, much like Charlotte Haze (Lolita's mother) is killed by a slow-moving car after she learns of Humbert Humbert's true desires and for her daughter.  And, "Lolita's" given name, Dolores Haze appears in a list of her classmates surrounded by a "bodyguard of roses" (Mary Rose Hamilton and and Rosaline Honeck).  Kohler told us last night that the name Dora came to Freud when remembering a maid named Rosa that had to change her name to Dora because she and someone else in the household (Freud's sister perhaps) was also named Rosa.

Next we read Freud's "Little Hans."

(I found the Ellen Gallagher artwork "Odalisque" online in an article from Times Higher Education. ) This article is worth reading.