After a particularly fitful rendition of the Ashtanga invocation, I was compelled to apologize to my students. "Sorry, I'm a terrible chanter," I said to the group. Years of "not sounding like the other boys" came to the surface in the form of apology and admittance.
Dr. Madeline Miskie a teacher of voice, came to me that day and offered assistance in the form of singing lessons. I refused, until it all happened again. That time, I said yes.
For the first few months, it took everything I had not to flip over her keyboard and bawl and apologize. I felt so exposed, and yet the exercises were all so simple. I remember crying when the tension in my jaw released, and not having any clear understanding of why. This didn't phase my teacher: She held space for the unfurling of sound, emotion, and trust.
I'll never forget the first time a stranger joined in and smiled as I biked down the street singing "Friends in Low Places"-- this was a very different response than I had ever had before.
Along the way, my pranayam practice shifted. My bravery buttressed between resolve and Reality, no longer tethered to the past. At 32, I'd become a singer.
I won't bore you with the yarns relating to the power of beginning to feel, hear, and visualize wave forms. It deepened my appreciation of the practice's method in minor and major ways. Who wants to hear about manipulating wave forms as they dance from the pelvic floor to the soft palate, anyway?
I can only say you're not too old, too broken, too queer, or to shy. If you want to learn, you can. It is an integral, immutable part of my Ashtanga practice now-- there is no series in the system quite like it that I've come across (I've got a few more to go ;)).
~Michael Joel Hall (Founder & Director, DC Ashtanga dcashtanga.com)
Level 2 Authorized Ashtanga Yoga Instructor
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute Mysore, India (2015)