Drops of Nectar: Yoga Relaxation for Rejuvenation and Healing with Shiva Rea

Sounds True; (800) 333-9185; 2 CDs, 125 minutes.

Well-known Southern California instructor and former YJ columnist Shiva Rea‘s latest effort, Drops of Nectar, is a two-CD set that includes asana, Pranayama, and meditation instruction, all with the aim of enhancing “our receptive, rhythmic, cooling, and rejuvenative capacity” (as Rea writes in the liner notes). Disc 1, with six tracks, opens with a short music-backed invocation. Tracks 2 and 3 cover Chandra Namaskar (Moon Salutation), which celebrates the “lunar nature of the Goddess.”

Rea’s version of Moon Salutation differs only slightly from its better-known sun-honoring complement, mostly in its breathing rhythms. Track 2 details the sequence itself; track 3 provides only the mantras associated with each position in the sequence, with one run-through in English and a second in Sanskrit. (These mantras are helpfully printed, in both English and Sanskrit, in an accompanying booklet.) Track 4 teaches Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (purification of the channels) and a seated breathing and visualization exercise called Prana Mudra.
On track 5 is a guided “So Hum” mantra meditation, preceded by a visualization of light, which is said to balance and integrate the energetic polarities (for instance, active-receptive, sun-moon) of the body. There are four rounds of this meditation, and the syllables of the mantra are assigned different meanings in each; for example, “so” represents Shiva, which here means “pure consciousness”; “hum” means shakti, or “creative energy.” The last track on the disc, “Lunar Shavasana I,” completes the practice with a full-body relaxation.

Disc 2 is shorter, with five tracks, and it again opens with a brief music-backed invocation. Track 2, titled “The Secret Ball Society,” instructs the listener how to use a tennis ball to massage and release tension in the muscles of the buttocks and shoulder blades by lying on the ball. Track 3 covers the popular technique of Yoga Nidra, or “Yoga Sleep” (based on the teaching of Satyananda Saraswati of the Bihar School of Yoga). This involves three related practices for the physical, energetic, and mental bodies: the initial cultivation of a sankalpa, or positive life “intention”; the rotation of the consciousness through the mandala (“wheel”) of the body from the feet to the head; and various visualizations of light and significant shapes. Tracks 4 and 5 contain relaxations that essentially boil down to musical compositions.

Rea is an exceptional teacher, blending precision and poetry in her instructions, and she has a beautifully soothing voice. Many of her images–of chakras and nadi (energy channels), even of the sun and moon–are based on traditional teachings, adding a sense of authenticity to her work. Another nice traditional touch is the mantra-supported performance of the Moon Salutation sequence. In sum, this is a useful and comprehensive instructional package.

Richard Rosen, who teaches in Oakland and Berkeley, California, has been writing for Yoga Journal since the 1970s.