Sting rocking Ardha Matsyendrasana & what bought him to Yoga
Posted on April 14, 2013 by Trace
Interview with Sting (via White Lotus) on what drew him to Yoga & how ‘Love Conquers All’…
Ganga : Many people have been inspired by and interested in your practice of Yoga. Can you tell us what brought you to Yoga?
Sting: I came to Yoga late in my life. I’m probably in my fourth year now which would mean that I started when I was 38 or 39. ➪ It‘s actually my regret that I didn’t begin earlier. I think I would have been further along the path than I am now had I started earlier. But then again, perhaps I wasn’t ready. I have been through various fitness regimes before, you know. I used to run about five miles a day and I did aerobics for awhile. I always stayed fit because I’m a performer and all of those things help me to perform. But it wasn’t until I met Danny Paradise, who became my mentor in Yoga, that I started the practice which I feel I will stay with for the rest of my life. I would like to. I feel it is a path that is involved enough to keep developing. It’s almost like music in a way; there’s no end to it. I think once you’ve run five miles in a reasonable time, as you get older, you can either sustain that time or it gets worse. That’s pretty frustrating. I think, if anything, one of the most exciting things about Yoga is that as I get older I seem to get better at certain parts of the practice, which is very inspiring. It makes you want to keep going. If anything, it’s reversing the aging process. I can do things with my body now that I wouldn’t even have thought of doing when I was an athlete, a teenager. So that keeps me going. This is something I want to keep doing.
Ganga: How did you meet Danny?
Sting: Actually, through my guitarist, Dominic Miller. Danny is a musician and he met Dominic playing in a restaurant one day and they ended up playing together–in Egypt of all places. I was just finishing the post production on my album, The Soul Cages, when Dom came in and asked if I would like to learn Yoga from a friend of his. I really knew nothing about Yoga. I thought you’d just sit on the floor cross legged and contemplate your navel. It never really struck me as something I would be particularly interested in. I was interested in more aggressive workouts. But Dominic said, “No, you would be surprised, actually. I’ve done a little bit and it’s very, very difficult and physically demanding.” I agreed and Danny came along to the mixing studio at the end of a session and said he would show me some Yoga. I thought, “I’m very fit; this will be easy.” I have to say that within twenty minutes he kicked my ass. There was a big dent in my pride and self esteem that I couldn’t do the things he was doing. In fact, the more he demonstrated the more I realized he seemed to be from another planet in terms of his balance, his strength, his grace. So I said, “That’s for me. Come to my house tomorrow. I know someone else who would also be interested in this–my wife, Trudie.” We were both looking for something else. He turned up the next morning and we ended up in the garden with the staff all looking out at the three of us doing these weird postures, but after that I was hooked. I’ve done it virtually every day since then. There have been occasional lapses, but it’s definitely part of my daily life now.
Ganga: Aside from all the health and fitness benefits, how has it affected your life in other ways?
Sting: One of the first questions I had about Yoga was that it seemed to take a long time to do the practice. It took an hour and forty or fifty minutes, sometimes two hours, to get through the whole thing. Danny said something to me which at the time I didn’t believe but which is actually being confirmed. He said, “If you do this practice you will have more energy to do your other tasks throughout the day.” Time will expand to accommodate the practice, in other words. I have to say that that’s true. When I really do my Yoga in the morning, I have more energy in the day. I get more done. My mind is more composed. There are more benefits to it than I would have thought. They are not just physical, but mental and I am even coming to believe that they are spiritual. That’s a development in my thinking. The deeper you get into Yoga you realize, yes, it is a spiritual practice. But it’s a journey I’m making. I’m heading that way. It’s not the first reason I did it. But I suppose that as I get older and I get more contemplative the Yoga practice will take that on. Especially the breathing which is linked very closely to meditation.
Ganga: I know you to be a person who enquires deeply into yourself and into life. This is a Jnana Yoga meditation practice called Vichara, enquiry. Do you see it as such? Has Yoga helped you with this?
Sting: Certainly it introduced me to a style of meditation. The only meditation I would have done before would be in the writing of songs. In the composing of music you have to enter virtually a trance state to transmit songs. I don’t think you write songs. They come through you. It’s trusting that they exist out there and you have to be the transmitter. For that you need a certain amount of mental purity. Yoga is just a different route to that same process. You’re taking something from our higher selves and putting it to use in normal life, I think. Does that make sense?
Ganga: Yes. Some musicians I’ve met find that when they begin meditation, silent meditation, they actually hear music within. Do you hear inner music?
Sting: I hear music all the time. Sometimes it drives me totally crazy. [laughs] In absolute silence I hear music. I hear music, I hear rhythms, I hear bird song. I live in an aural world. It’s never totally empty. The Yoga can induce that state.
Ganga: Can you say something about some of the challenges you face at the moment in your Yoga practice?
Sting: One of the interesting things is that I am getting to know my body better than I ever had before and recognizing that certain blockages in my practice are a result of some kind of psychological problems. The history of my life is written in my body, in my muscles. I’m very stiff in my hips. This is something I never knew before. I thought I was pretty loose. Some of the postures are so extreme they bring you up to face what you’ve done to your body. All those years of running must have taken their toll. I’m told that stiffness in the gluteus is about stubbornness–bloody-mindedness. So I’m working on that! You know, the intention, the long term goal, is to become completely fluid, completely liquid and sinuous. As I get older I’d like to be that. I’d like to have explored the entire range of my body’s abilities. It’s not that I am afraid of getting old. I just want to get old in a certain way.
Sting: I want to get old gracefully. I want to have good posture, I want to be healthy and I want to be an example to my children. I’m working on it. I am certainly by no means pretending to be an adept or anything but a beginner. But really I feel I’m on a path.
Ganga: You are practicing the Ashtanga Vinyasa series?
Sting: I think it was useful for me to be introduced to this series at first because it’s so militant and it’s kind of macho. It appealed to my sense of challenge. I like the fact that it’s very difficult and that it’s tough. That’s not to say it’s the only practice I’ve been exposed to in the past four years. I’ve done others and I’ve learned a lot from them. If anything it’s a nice pleasant change and relief to do another series like your own Flow Series. I’ve found it very useful and beneficial. It explores muscles and postures I’ve never done before. Again, it’s limitless. There doesn’t seem to be an end to it which is exciting.
Ganga: Before we end do you have anything final to say to the Yogis of the world?
Sting: It’s interesting to me how Yoga is becoming incredibly popular. More and more people seem to be taking it up. I think the time is right for Yoga. We really are living is a very complex time–a time of great turmoil and change. The more irrational of us are worried about the millennium ending–as if a date would really matter. But it seems to be having an effect on people’s psyche with all this sort of madness that is going on. Yoga is a good antidote to all of that. Yoga will take us out of all this historical paranoia. It’s a long haul we’re in. It’s not going to end in 1999
(final words on love)
Sting: I think that in deep meditation, when you really face this enormity of eternity, you have to trust in something that will sustain you through that terror, through that fear. I’ve learned to trust in the power of love. Love for oneself, love for the people you’re with, your family, your friends. Love for simplicity, love for the truth. I think that without love, none of it makes any sense. It all sounds like a truism, you know. But it is true. Love conquers all. Amor vinciet onnia.
(White Lotus Yoga: interview with Sting)