YO-MU! Yoga and music, a great combo
Barcelona-based British yoga teacher Lucy Beckwith talks to Plan B Escapes about YO-MU, a project born from a desire to open the world of Yoga to the healing and energising elements of live music. Lucy and Pepe step outside of the boundaries of a traditional Yoga practice by combining deep and playful asana with skilfully crafted live cello and electronic beats composition. This is a unique, new concept Yoga and Music project that has been developing over the past 3 years. YO-MU offers daily classes in an art loft in the centre of Barcelona and due to it’s popularity has now begun touring yoga festivals, retreats and studios internationally.
Lucy: I see myself as a dancer first and foremost as I began dancing at the age of 4 and it was my life. My dream was to be a ballerina b ut when I was a teenager I found contemporary dance and it was like finding myself. I could be creative and express myself, I felt free inside my body. I went to London Contemporary Dance school and then to California Institute of the Arts where I choreographed and collaborated with musicians. We had yoga classes at dance school and my mum had introduced me to Yoga when I was 16. My father was always deeply into meditation so it was very natural that meditation and yoga became my saving grace during the gruelling and competitive training at dance school – a saving grace that has continued to see me through my life and adventures up until now. I had a brief romance with the acting world but it never felt right in my heart, although I still do voice over work now. I continued to choreograph and dance professionally up until my second son was born as well as making dance videos and I even dabbled in documentary filmmaking! I studied to be a yoga teacher when my first son was 6 months old, my partner and I took him to India where we thought we would live indefinitely but as a young mother of 24 I was keen to experience all of what life had to offer me so we moved to Barcelona where I began to teach yoga. However 14 years ago the yoga world was not what it is now in the city so I taught a lot of private classes and soon realised I needed to study other styles of yoga in order to be the teacher I wanted to be, so I took a break from teaching for a couple of years and returned 5 years ago with a completely different concept of what teaching yoga was all about as well as a belly full of life experience that practicing yoga had seen me through, and this is what I wanted to teach. How being on the mat daily can be your saving grace as a human being and how we can take this grace out into the world”.
Laurent: How/when did the musical aspect come into being, and how did you implement it into your classes?
Lucy: The music aspect, like everything in my creative life came very naturally. However I would like to emphasise that it was the musician specifically that inspired the formation of YOMU. I was inspired by Pepe’s imagination and versatility to compose not just for the cello but on guitar and electronically. He is a real artist and believes in the power his music has on his audience.
I began practicing yoga to the cello and I discovered how easy it was to drop into my body and breathe and how rested I felt as a result. The experience reminded me of when I collaborated with musicians as a dancer. I had been teaching classes for a while on my own but always using my own playlists to accompany the classes. I was seeing how the music was helping my students to connect more with their bodies and less with their heads. However I was also aware of the limitations of the playlists. Nothing can compare to the effect of the vibrations of live music on the body and the power of the synchronicity of music composed in response to the moving body in the moment, something I experienced daily at dance school. Music is healing in so many ways, just like movement, it is not to be ignored or played as easy listening or as an accompaniment. YOMU was established to promote the healing power of music and the intentional intelligent use of music with movement and yoga asana.
YOMU was established to offer something very new and unique to the yoga world. Music and yoga collaborations are becoming more and more popular in yoga festivals and studios around the world. What makes us so unique is that we created a yoga and music studio that over 2 years offered daily classes of yoga flow, live cello & beats classes. This studio also gave us a creative space to develop our project, to see where it would take us. After 3 years we now have a YOMU community and we are continuing to grow ever day.
Laurent: Tell us a little bit about the thought process of selecting which music best suits a particular class?/How much planning goes into each class?
Lucy: YOMU offers two different types of classes, dynamic vinyasa flow and restorative flow. As an extremely experienced music artist Pepe composes spontaneously for each class as he likes to follow the energy of the room which is different in every class and also the yoga sequence which is different every week. As a teacher I am really into creating themes for the week or month which are influenced by the seasons we are in, what is going on with my personal journey on the mat or how yoga & music unite us as a community through life’s daily challenges. The dynamic sequence is upbeat, fast, challenging and strong therefore the music is composed to support this pace and to also get people through when they are tiring! The restorative session is much slower and restful. The music is much more lyrical and minimal. Pepe composes contemporary cello music so he incorporates this into our restorative sessions. The deep relaxation which is taken in both sessions is always and strictly experienced to the sound of the cello. For this part Pepe focuses on the healing vibrational sound of the cello and uses his voice to connect with the bodies on the mat.
Laurent: What can one expect from one of your YOMU classes?
Lucy: You can expect an experience, many people say our classes are an experience rather than a typical class. People are being guided by not just one teacher but two, both Pepe and myself. We prefer to be seen as guides as we take the journey with you as soon as you step on the mat. I have always been a rebel against the yoga ‘teacher ‘ dogma, when we step on the mats we are humans in this together with all our quirky imperfections! One of our favourite quotes is ‘You are not alone in this ‘ so you can expect to make friends in our classes and you’ll definitely leave with a smile, feeling energised, rested and valued for who you are as a human being. That, for us, is the meaning of a yoga class otherwise you might as well stay at home and practice alone.
Genuinely anyone and everyone can benefit from YOMU – that is why we created this project. Yoga and music for the people, regardless of age or body ability. We always say at the beginning of class, this is your practice and if today you just need to lie down and take in the music, just do it, that can be your yoga that day. We have given YOMU classes at schools and to teens and we would like to create sessions for the elderly and challenged. YOMU is wonderful because we do not tell people they have to commit to anything except only for the time they are with us on the mat. We are not an institution with rules, we are an experience that you can have once in your life or every day. We are all about sharing the heart of yoga which is being the best version of YOU and coming back gently to what is true within you. Tell me who doesn’t need a bit of cello and yoga in their life ?
Laurent: What’s next for you and YOMU?
Lucy: That is my favourite question!! And the answer is LOTS. We are in the middle of launching our first online home video sessions, offering 60 minutes dynamic and restorative classes. Our Restorative session is out now for Christmas, the perfect gift for yourself or a loved one to see you through this crazy busy season and to cure any post Xmas blues! At the end of January we are on our first mini UK tour of the year, we are headed to events and studios in Chester, Manchester, Leeds and London. We have our first exclusive YOMU retreat booked for May in Herefordshire and then we have been invited to teach over the summer at Herrick House retreats. Our most exciting event coming up is LA in June where we will be giving class on the rooftop of the headquarters of Netflix. We are in the middle of booking yoga festivals for summer 2018 too, so wonderful adventures all on the horizon ! You can find us the rest of the time giving weekly classes at the Hidden Factory and also in the privacy of my home where we give private YOMU sessions. I also give weekly traditional Sivananda Hatha yoga classes in my home as homage to the foundation of my yoga practice. Yoga begins at home X
NEW HOLIDAY RESTORATIVE ONLINE 60 MIN CLASS http://yo-mu.com/index.php/