With an artist’s soul with an aptitude for athletics, John Salisbury’s (@yogi_john) journied from karate to break dancing, then weight lifting before he found yoga. John is a yoga teacher and owner of Modern Yoga in Scottsdale, Arizona. If you haven’t been to one of his Arizona-based yoga classes, you can still get a sense for his style of teaching and spiritual practice just by listening to the beats he puts together for the flows he guides. His flavorful mix of music will make you want to move, and, as John hopes, win a spiritual battle.
We caught up with John to get a deeper look into his musical mind:
Stelari: Thank you for creating a playlist for Stelari. What is the name and theme of this playlist?
"Yoga Thump.” The theme is a soul-filled vibe that thumps on your heart and pounds on your mind to beat you up senseless, which in yoga terms means to help you withdraw from the senses in order to still the mind.
Where do you find the music you love?
I find the artists randomly. Mostly, I look for good beats that are uplifting and have a certain kind of energy that makes you want to move and that feel inspirational. I’ve become more Spotify-driven. I often look at Spotify's "Top 50" charts for Global and US music. But, I really like to find music that noone knows about. That’s where I will search DJ websites and look at all of the top songs in different genres that most teachers wouldn’t think about. And many teachers may not feel comfortable playing these types of songs because it doesn’t necessarily resonate with them. The songs are more risky. That’s where having a DJ background comes in handy.
Which one song is the pinnacle of the playlist and what do you imagine us doing when this song plays… and why?
One of my favorite genres is called “Break-Beat” or simply “Breaks.” The pinnacle of this playlist happens during a cluster of a few break-beat songs, the peak being a track called “Primitive Rhythm” by Aylen. I imagine the students in the midst of what would be the peak sequence where they are practicing arm-balances and single-legged standing poses, such as Natarajasana (Dancer) and Svarga Dvijasana (Bird of Paradise). They are high-energy poses that are uplifting with high-energy music.
What kind of movement or poses would you design for this playlist and why?
Because I teach so much, I select music that could flow with any Vinyasa class. I never tailor movements or poses with songs because the moment is so fleeting. I teach in a much more organic way. In other words, I teach more from a progression mindset rather than a set format. The music I select works its way up the energy-ladder so that it starts grounded, builds to the highest state, and then works its way back down again. The sequences evolve on their own. I never have anything pre-planned. Often the sequences have a mind of their own and the poses come to me as I’m teaching the sequence. This way everyone has to listen more and won’t zone out anticipating what’s coming next.
How do these songs make you feel?
These songs make me feel powerful and that I’m winning the spiritual battle. It’s battle music. A spiritual battle. The most important battle and, yet, the toughest to really see. We are so focused on the battle outside between us and others - whether it’s another country or people we go up against for jobs, or simply other people in traffic we are battling to get home or get in front of. That’s not the real fight. The real fight is within. The real peace to make is inside.
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