Octopus Garden is excited to have Anita Katakkar’s drumming beats accompany our Friday 630 to 800pm Level 1-2 class, lead by Alix Bemrose. We asked Anita to share her take on drumming in a Vinyasa class and how it can deepen your practice.
I have two practices: yoga and playing tabla (the premiere drum of North India). I’ve practiced yoga for the past 9 years and have played tabla for the past 16 years. I think that I’ve deepened my yoga practice through my tabla practice and vice versa. In my experience my yoga practice is the most powerful when I dedicate it to someone else. Similarly, the best musical sessions that I’ve had with others are when my only agenda is to completely support them. In both my yoga and tabla practices, I listen to my breathing, and have learnt to pay attention to the emotions that result from the composition I’m playing or the asana I’m taking. I’ve learned the importance of my core and have related the balance of my hands in many yoga poses to the balance of my hands while playing tabla. In both practices, I’ve learnt the importance of separating my non stop influx of thoughts from my sense of self.
Indian music, in general, is largely an improvised art form. In accompaniment (dance, instrumental or vocal) it is the tabla’s role to follow the mood of the person they are accompanying. One of my beloved yoga teachers (Jeannine Woodall) asked me to play for a yoga class a few years ago. I played to a single loop that I burned onto a CD for the entire class. I remember becoming very aware of the energetic levels as the class progressed – it starts out low, then becomes very energetic and flowing for vinyasa and standing poses, then dips for seated poses, rises again for inversions and back bends, and then comes back down for samastithi. I also remember recognizing the equivalent importance of silence and sound.
Since then, through developing my accompaniment style to yoga, I try to honour the need for space while also trying to capture the mood exuding from the class. My weekly residency with Elke Shroeder in 2009 – 2010 allowed me to develop my accompaniment style to where it is today. Elke liked to link breath to movement for part of the class and then in the other part, she let this link go. Playing for yoga class is not an exact science, which I love, because it allows me to explore a creative side that etiquette does not allow for when playing classically. My other non traditional outlet is my solo project Rakkatakwhich merges Indian classical rhythms with instrumental melodies and electronic soundscapes.
When accompanying yoga, in addition to my tabla, I bring in a laptop and loop a plethora of samples including drones, beats and melodic samples. Going forward on Fridays, I’m playing weekly with Alix Bemrose at Octopus Garden and am excited to see where it will evolve to next. Hope to see you out!