Yoga: Staying Grounded Despite the Music

I switched to a new yoga studio. It took me a while, but it’s a really comfortable place, and challenging, and joyful. One big difference from my old studio, though, is that the instructors play music during the practice. Not just background yoga-type music. The music has words. Mostly this is fine and background and unnoticeable, but there was a moment in a recent class when the instructor played Send in the Clowns during savasana — corpse pose, a restful pose you do at the end of class in which you basically completely relax onto your mat and just let your mind drift.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to let your mind float when the song playing makes you think of sad circus accidents, like trapeze artists falling to their death into the sawdust below and someone saying to call in the clowns to distract the crowd. That’s what I’ve always thought that song was about (right? I mean, isn’t that where the expression comes from?). It turns out the song not about that at all (sorry, Sondheim), but I didn’t find that out until after class, when I went home and looked it up.

Last week I zipped out to a morning yoga class. And I literally zipped: thanks to the lack of traffic (and lucky timing on the traffic lights), I made it door-to-door in four minutes flat on my bike.

It was a crowded, sweaty class. This class happened to be unheated, but it was so packed and vigorous that I was quickly dripping sweat. I was flowing, I was working, I was centered, I modified half pigeon so as not to irritate my grumpy outer hip muscles, and then Landslide came on and I came undone

The melancholy tone of that song has always made me feel a little sad, but that day in yoga it caught me by hard surprise, tears suddenly streaming down my face as I tried to control my breathing and be present in the practice.

Some of you know some parts of my life, and some of you know other parts, and different groups I’m in know bits and pieces, but in short, I am going through some hard stuff right now. My family is. We’re working hard – – and it will take a lot of work, is taking a lot of work. By this time next year — or probably a lot sooner — we will all be feeling much better and be much happier. We’re OK, and we’re going to be OK.

I don’t know about this music-during-yoga-class, though. It’s distracting sometimes. But the yoga and the community? It’s exactly what I need right now, odd song choices or not.

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