The "yoga of sound" is a practice in which students learn techniques to quiet the mind, incorporating sound in some way, be it the use of vibrations, clapping, musical instruments, chanting, sung tones and especially, breathing. The practice can include use of sound to reinvigorate chakras (energy centers) in the body, using chants to boost confidence, Indian music and instruments in meditation, and singing mantras.
After receiving his bachelor of music in composition at Boston Conservatory in 2008, Iwanek pursued a doctorate in musical arts from Boston University. During his studies, he began teaching a class at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2012.
A chance encounter in the MIT cafeteria with professor George Ruckert, who taught Indian classical music, led to a conversation and an offer from Ruckert to let Iwanek borrow (and eventually purchase) his harmonium.
"That chance meeting seemed like a green light for me to go for it and pursue Indian classical music," Iwanek says.
When he moved to Mississippi in fall 2014, Iwanek taught a Community Enrichment Series class at Millsaps College on music and mysticism.
"I finally saw how my life's parallel tracks of study—music and comparative religions—could finally coincide," he says. He says students enjoyed that six-week-long course and expressed an interest in continuing the study, so he started conducting meetings in his living room in Madison.
That interest continues to build as Iwanek engages the community. Recently, he, organized a Mindfulness Day at the Municipal Art Gallery. His business raises funds for an orphanage in Nepal, and he seeks opportunities to collaborate with other mindfulness practitioners. He still does the class twice a month in Madison and also leads a yoga class at Butterfly Yoga, which is separate from Music & Mysticism.
"The yoga of sound is something the students really enjoy after a more active physical practice," he says.
For more information on Music & Mysticism and to see a full calendar of events, visit thinkartmusic.com.