What practices help you claim, reclaim, and stay in that space?
What have you found that brings you back?
The best thing that has come out of this process of transformation for me is my understanding that honoring yourself really does
work. It presents itself as something hard to do because if it were
easy to do, then you wouldn’t even think twice. But it’s those hard
decisions you have to make: when you know what you need to do
but you are scared-- and then you find out that it was the right
thing. I've done that so many times now, that even when I am
afraid, I can tell the difference of how the right thing feels inside.
Once you do it enough times, your muscle for it becomes strong,
and it’s easier to get yourself back to that set point.
One of the things I do is journal. You can draw in your journal,
you can write one word on one page in your journal. You can do
anything. I journal because it is a place where I can just put things
down on paper, out of my head, and I don't have to think about
them anymore. One of the things that has helped me a lot over
these past four years is to ask myself questions and then answer
I pray. I don't think that there is any right way to pray other than
just being sincere. I meditate; I practice TM (Transcendental Meditation).
I don’t know if this is a practice or not but, I tell people what I
feel. Sometimes it’s easy to fall into the trap of being pleasing or
holding on to other people’s stuff, but that all affects your health
in so many ways. I just tell people what I think because holding
stuff in is what made me the most sick. All of that leads to clarity.
I do everything that I can to be clear with people and with myself.
Even speaking to the people around you is a practice. We
have ingrained in us that we have to please.
Yes, that was a hard one. I've read all the books but I didn't know
what any of this felt like until I decided to take 100% responsibility for myself. It’s all real to me now.
Do you feel that part of it becoming real was inspired by that
sense of exhaustion, from hitting the wall, and then saying
“This is enough, what is going to be different?”
You know that saying, “Every breakdown holds a breakthrough?”
I didn't know what it meant until I went through it. The rock bottom is the seed for your elevation.
What does your elevation look like in your life now?
The bottom line is asking for what I want and making sure that I
have what I need. Making sure that I can be myself.
During this tour, I asked for what I need: a vegan chef, a guy bus
and a girl bus; my mission is too important for somebody to tell
me no. There is no no -- you can say no if you want to, but move
aside and let me continue on my journey. It has all been proving
the theory that all these things that have come to me in my prayer
and meditation can be real. Getting what you need is also telling
people how you feel, that is how my life is working, and that is
why things are better with my mom and my creative team. In every
aspect, things are better.
I speak to the crowd too. I tell the audience this is not a concert,
this is a “songversation.” I talk and I sing. I needed to be able to
get on stage and be all me, I didn’t want to pretend to be an enter-
tainer or try to fit into someone else’s mold of what an entertainer
does. I see myself as someone who is doing spiritual work thought
music and I would like to see myself as a healer. My hope is that
people are healed though the messages in my music.
How has your yoga practice been meaningful for you?
Somehow I ended up being a young adult who lived in her head.
Literally, on a physical level. As an artist, I go to that place that is
way out of my body or way into my head.
Yoga started for me in ’06 when I was having chronic back issues. I was on the road and struggling with everything that we
have been talking about and the stress showed up in my back. I
always had a yoga mat somewhere and I played around with yoga
because it felt natural to me. At that time, I got on my yoga mat
and burst out crying; something started to release from my body.
That is when I realized I needed to pay attention to my own body.
In the two years after that, I gained somewhere between 20 and 25
pounds. While I was talking about mind, body, and spirit, I was
living in a mental and spiritual world but I wasn’t paying attention
to my body. Yoga helped me to do that. It’s also how I ground
myself. When I wake up in the morning, I still feel like I’m not yet
in my body, so I stretch for 10 or 15 minutes by doing some sun
salutations. I feel clear—my mind, body, and spirit are ready for
Yoga has also been important because on tour, sometimes I don’t
have time to do everything, but I’m at that place where I can just
fold forward at my waist and my back will adjust itself. It just
Although you said you tend to live in your head, there is an aspect to being on stage where you are using your whole body.
How are you embodied on stage?
People who get on stage are not present in their bodies all the time.
I would be tired after a show and I would be in the back of the
dressing room spaced out because I would be disconnected from
my body. I’m learning how to be in my body on stage and how
much it is available to me. It is very different now: I love that feeling of being in my body on stage.
Whatever you are doing is working for you. The response from
your fans is so positive. It appears they’ve caught up with you.
I hope so. I think so, that makes me happy.
For more information about India.Arie, Songversation, and her
world tour, visit: soulbird.com
Felicia Tomasko is the Editor-in-Chief of LAYoga Magazine. Contact her at
I tell the audience
this is not a
concert, this is a
I talk and I sing.