As discussed in my previous posts, I had happily reached an agreement with ASCAP that I could contact the artists (or their representatives) directly for permission to use the dozen classic rock songs on my Rockin' Yoga playlist for my classes here at Lothlorien House. However, I was quite surprised at the overall negative response that I received! While the George Harrison and Alanis Morissette representatives kindly gave their permission, everybody else, including the Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd folks, told me I had to pay the ASCAP license even after I explained to them that I could not afford it.
I was going to just give up, but then while doing yoga the other day I was reminded of a legal loophole: Churches do not need a license to play any music - including "secular" songs - during worship service! And we can do that, because I am a minister, Lothlorien House is technically a church (a branch of a religious order, The Community of Francis and Clare), and the type of yoga that we teach (Heart of Yoga) is, in fact, "whole-body prayer."
What do we mean by, "whole-body prayer"? Most commonly, people conceive of prayer as talk: to tell God all kinds of things that He/She already knows, like what we think ought to be done for various people in our lives, or complain, apologize, give thanks, praise, etc., or even chant the Names. But, there’s more. What if you could pray with your whole body? What if your movement and breath was a devotional offering, as well as a direct participation in the actual presence of God? That’s exactly what it is. Our breath is from the Spirit who breathes life into us, and our body is the temple of that Spirit. With a regular consistent yoga practice, this becomes no longer an abstraction or a belief, but a real experience. And then after doing our asana with pranayama technique, which is a form of moving meditation, we can go into seated meditation or “contemplative prayer” – where there is no need to talk or do anything, just Be in that wonderful loving Presence, resting in our oneness with Life.
So, if anybody here in Panama City is interested, we will be happy to host a rockin' yoga worship service on a Saturday or Sunday evening. It will be something along the lines of the "Rave Mass" that got Father Matthew Fox in trouble, except instead of dance, we will do asana. The service will consist of gentle asana, pranayama and meditation while listening to Zep "Stairway to Heaven," Hendrix "Power of Soul," and other great spiritually-themed classic rock songs. I promise to keep the sermon, if any, very brief. We will offer Communion (bread and wine) for those who are interested, before winding down with some Floyd "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" and Beatles "Across the Universe" for meditation. I look forward to hearing from anybody who would like to join us for this event.