As featured by The Washington Times, CBS, and Washington’s WTOP news, Brad Ellsworth of Druminyasa® has been playing drums and percussion for over 25 years. Brad is a yoga teacher and founded Druminyasa by connecting his love for rhythm, drums and movement.
We connected with Brad and talked about drumming, movement and more. Here’s what he had to say:
How long have you been drumming?
I started drumming in 7th grade middle school concert band, and marched drumline throughout high school and college at Virginia Tech. I learned music and drum rudiments in the band room BUT learned “rhythm” playing on lunch room tables with fellow drumline members. Did you know the world’s first drum machine was a school desk! I’ve also played drums for various rock, funk & jazz groups and teach drum lessons.
What experience brought you to yoga?
I took my first yoga class at a gym shortly after moving to Richmond in 2011 to find more balance in my life. The teacher had the class doing handstands against the wall, and I remember falling over on somebody and walking out embarrassed. Thankfully, I returned the next day since yoga is about “showing up.” A couple years later, I took my first led ashtanga class also at a gym and later found my teacher Robbie Norris at Richmond City Yoga, and also began teaching yoga. I’ve just started ashtanga 3rd series this month, and enjoy exploring other styles of yoga especially when traveling.
We have heard you speak about the power of rhythm in yoga, and how rhythm connects us more deeply with our breath, our heartbeat and our movement. Can you tell us more about this?
Yoga is all about RHYTHM. Our breath and heartbeat have a rhythm or “Beats per Minute (bpm)” that ebbs and flows throughout the practice. We move on our mats in rhythm. When all of these rhythms are connected, it’s very powerful like a symphonic movement of breath, beat, cadence & vibrational energy in time, patterns and space. When we are better able to connect to our own rhythms, we can connect with the rhythms surrounding us. Nature has a rhythm, the cycles of the sun and moon, the changing of seasons, the tides of the ocean. Our environment has a rhythm. People and animals move in rhythm. We have rhythm in our daily lives.
Can you speak about the history of combining drumming and movement? Where did this all begin?
Drumming has been an important part of rituals and ceremonial gatherings for most indigenous cultures bringing people together for thousands of years. Moving and breathing to the beat of the drum is a form of “connection” both with our inner-self and others — just like our yoga practice! All drumming today is rooted in Africa, and has influenced drumming throughout the world. Drums are an important part of religion. In Hinduism, Shiva (lord of the dance) carries a drum in his right hand which was said to be the first sound heard that created the universe. Ganesh, the elephant God and remover of obstacles, also is depicted with a drum.
What has been your favorite class or event you have drummed at so far?
Every class and festival brings unique energy from yogis and teachers that I collaborate with, as well as different spaces making every experience organic. Just like playing a “live” concert or in a recording studio. So they are all special in that aspect. Probably the most unique event was drumming a Hindu Ganesh puja ceremony for the esteemed yoga teacher & author Eddie Stern at Ashtanga Yoga New York. The entire ceremony was conducted in Sanskrit, and I had no idea what to expect drumming throughout at certain parts. At the conclusion of the ceremony was a Ganesh processional. The priest pointed to me motioning his hands yelling “tabla..tabla”, and I just started drumming while people were marching and ringing the puja bells! I recently posted that video on my @druminyasa Instagram.
How are you adapting your classes during this crazy time?
This summer, I embarked on what I’m calling the “Druminyasa Connection” tour. Connection is key and that’s being tested because of the current health situation. As I mentioned, drumming has been an important part of bringing people together to move and breathe regardless of race, culture, religion, identity, or social and economic background. These events are being held outdoors in collaboration with area studios & teachers, with mat distancing & protocols. What I’ve found is the energy is every bit as powerful, and people appreciate the experience and in-person connection.
Share with us the exciting things you have coming up in the future.
I just released my new Druminyasa Connection video shot at a studio event in Winston-Salem this summer, and also collaborating with my friend and teacher Yogi J Miles on drums. I’ll be continuing my Druminyasa Connection tour this fall, and appearing at The Yoga Farm Fest in Shreveport, Louisiana which is being held on September 25-27.