Today's Daily Tip
Feel the Vibration
Interview with Maroon 5
Los Angeles rock band Maroon 5 won a Grammy as best new artist in 2005 for its debut album, Songs About Jane. In 2006, some of the band mates took up yoga as a balm for the tour-heavy life that has helped the group sell nearly 15 million albums worldwide. Frontman Adam Levine, 32, an avid weightlifter, had broken his sternum, and his trainer suggested yoga to keep him in shape and release tension. He came to love it. Now, keyboardist Jesse Carmichael, 32, has completed teacher training and hopes to make yoga a regular part of their touring life. And there's talk of a Twitter contest for fans to join in a backstage class before shows.
Yoga Journal: You started practicing in the last few years.
Adam Levine: A lot of things I'm passionate about I didn't set out to do and maybe even resisted. Singing wasn't a major aspiration—I wanted to play guitar, but I sang because I could. Same with yoga. I was weightlifting when my trainer recommended yoga for tightness. After my first vinyasa class, that was it. I was totally blown away and never worked out with weights again. I felt exhausted but also peaceful and relaxed. It changed my whole approach to life.
YJ: What changes did you notice?
AL: I won't lie: At the beginning, it was 100 percent physical for me. I had lactic acid from working out. I couldn't touch my toes. People who say that they don't do yoga for the physical benefits are full of it. It makes you look great, which is cool, but it also makes you feel great. Both are awesome.
It puts me in a completely different place mentally now. The practice slows me down. I have to focus so intently, I'm not thinking about anything else. My mind is free of the typical thoughts. Yoga really revolutionized my life.
YJ: When you're on tour, when do you practice?
AD: Right before I go onstage. It's my prep, absolutely. Performing is an unnatural thing to do for a living. You get up onstage with bright lights. It's loud and people are screaming. It's not a peaceful environment, you know? So if you can create that for yourself and have a bit of silence before going out there, it's a good thing.
It's nice to have routines to come back to when you are in a constantly fluctuating state. I'm here, there, on a bus, on a plane, in a hotel. It's sensory overload. An hour or so of yoga a day really recenters me.
YJ: It seems like a lot of musicians turn to yoga on tour.
Jesse Carmichael: So much of the weirdness of the touring experience has to do with the time differences traveling around the world. The lack of roots can make you feel pretty ungrounded. Yoga instills the idea of being in the now. So I don't get as lost in the weirdness of touring. Plus, just physically, it helps keep up endurance for the shows. And my meditation practice helps me center and connect.
Right now, I'm working on the mantra, "May I be filled with lovingkindness. May I be well. May I be filled with peace and ease. May I be happy." Next, I'll expand and include people around me being well until everyone is included. It sort of reminds me of the security video in airplanes: Secure your own mask first.
YJ: What do you enjoy most about your yoga?
JC: Yoga is an exciting mystery that helps me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I don't worry as much about the future or the past. It helps me with my sense of impatience. Things change slowly. Improving as a musician, and as a yogi, is a gradual process. That's what I'm most grateful about. And the idea of structure or discipline has carried over into my creative life. Structure is like the sides of the river. In order for the river to flow, you have to have these sides. Otherwise, the river would just spread out and evaporate. Whenever you introduce structure, your energy can flow.
YJ: Is there such a thing as a yogi rocker?
AL: When I'm on the road, I practice every day to keep me sane. But I'm also not a saint: I drink and party and do stupid stuff every once in a while. But I balance it out.
Everyone thinks, "Oh, you do yoga; you must be serene." If anything, yoga makes me more intense. It's such a primal practice. It definitely puts me in a comfortable place, but it makes me even more spirited. It magnifies aspects of my personality that are fiery, and it brings out my natural tendencies. Your nature shines through when you do yoga a lot. It's made me really confident and comfortable with who I am.
Interview with Bonnie Raitt
Blueswoman Bonnie Raitt taps her creative wellspring with yoga.
Guitarist and singer Bonnie Raitt, 61, is something of a music legend, with 18 albums and nine Grammy Awards to her credit as well as a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of of Fame. She's played with such legends as Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Committed to political activism as well as music, Raitt lives in Northern California and is a passionate yogi.
Yoga Journal: Tell us about your yoga practice.
Bonnie Raitt: I've been practicing yoga since around '91, when I was off the road, and a friend invited me to share her home practice. She was a wonderful teacher, and soon after, I began classes at my local yoga studios. I felt the benefits immediately and knew that this was a way for me to be able to both get and stay fit and to also deepen on a spiritual and creative level.
I've enjoyed investigating different styles, like Iyengar, hatha, Yin, vinyasa, and various blends. I like mixing up my teachers and styles, as I feel it enriches both my practice and my understanding of the sutras and yoga tradition.
The last 15 years or so, I've mostly been practicing an intermediate-level vinyasa flow about three times a week when I'm home, and I carry my mat and props with me to practice in my hotel on the road.
I occasionally drop in on classes when I'm traveling, but I find, in my situation, using DVDs and just creating my own program works fine.
Although I don't usually get a full hour and a half of practice outside class, something I'd like to get better at, I find doing little "yoga bits" during my walks or in between business or household chores also brings great benefits. It's amazing how much privacy you can get on a hiking trail, using a park bench, steps, or even tree trunks for leverage.
YJ: Why do you practice?
BR: I have found so many benefits from my yoga practice. Aside from its being a wonderful way to get and stay fit and strong, I love the calming effect it has on my mind and nervous system. I was raised in the Quaker tradition, and yoga provides a similar path to achieving quiet, centering on your true spirit, and connecting to the earth and to a bigger community.
Like a lot of us, I spend too much time in my head, always trying to catch up with my list of what's to do. With all the increasingly fast ways of communicating and the pressure to fit more things in, I find that yoga, meditation, and pPranayama breathing are essential to helping me achieve more focus, balance, and peace.
I love the fellowship I feel with my community in class. It's one of the places where I can really feel part of the group. I love that there's no sense of competition, no pressure to be perfect, and very little sense of being checked out.
I love the variety of ages, body types, and abilities around me, and even when we're being challenged, the fact that we're all pushing together with the same goals helps us spur each other on. I've told my teacher that I'd probably never push myself as far as she gets us to go. It's a devotion that brings me pride as well as making me feel great after every class.
YJ: Has yoga made you a better artist?
BR: I think that having an anchor practice has helped me cope with fitting my business and home lives with my artistic life.
As asanas prepare you for meditation, so practicing yoga and meditating help you center into yourself. That includes the deep well of creativity and expression inside us all. But for an artist, it is crucial.
Honoring that more spiritual, intuitive side is as important a part of the gift of yoga as feeling healthier physically. Anything that can help you take better care of yourself—all parts of yourself—gives every aspect of your life more aliveness and meaning.
The way yoga brings you to yourself can't but help an artist tap into that deeper well. Yoga and art are actually very similar: The challenge of stretching beyond your comfort zone, of learning to breathe and surrender into places that are painful or tight, is sometimes also what allows a profound artistic opening.
Opening to our true Self, tapping into the bigger One that we are, after all, that's the gift of yoga for me.
Diane Anderson is a writer living in San Francisco and a contributing editor at Yoga Journal.
Do you enjoy music and yoga? Read about how the kirtan revolution has made chanting God's name both hip and holy, at yogajournal.com.