November 21, 2013

Hey Yoga Teacher: “I Hate Your F*^king Music.”{Adult}


Don’t look at me, I didn’t say it.

Really, I didn’t. But I’ve sure heard it, and other insanely inappropriate stuff I still can’t believe. And yes, someone really said this to my friend Cat, word for word, on his way out the door in the middle of her class while The Who was on. Jeez, it’s not like she was playing N.W.A., in which case I can pretty much understand the guy’s hostility.

But hey y’all, there are better, less dramatic ways to roll up your mat and make a hasty exit.

I can’t help but notice people have mighty strong opinions about music in yoga class. It’s a polarizing conversation, to say the least, and you can’t please everyone. What I do know is, the yoga purists out there probably won’t be clicking on my recent Facebook post: “Hey you guys! check out my Spotify playlist, ‘Disco Flow’ and bust some poses out with Donna Summer and me today! Toot, toot, beep beep!”

It was the day she passed away; I couldn’t resist.

What’s that now? Did I hear a long, frustrated sigh…for the unavoidably twisted fate of this beautiful, ancient practice? Have we gone too far? Are we all going straight to hell for a little “Mamase, Mamasa, Mamakusa” with our Surya Namaskar B?

Don’t worry, the death rattle hasn’t quite yet rung out over boogie fever. It’s still okay to shake that asana.

Let’s narrow it down:

Sitar music. I play it when I teach. I love it. It makes me feel like I’m in a whole other special world.

Sanskrity, chanty, upbeat music. Again, I play it. I love it. It’s music we can get down and groove to, even if we don’t understand the language (and especially when I bring my tambourine). And it doesn’t matter. We can still feel it, feel something, hopefully something primal in our hungry guts and in our thirsty souls. Isn’t that what yoga is all about, anyway?

Rock music. What’s so bad with a little Jane’s Addiction with a yoga flow? Or Pink Floyd? I don’t know about you, but I find Dark Side of the Moon has the power to soothe my insides and unburden all the crap I’m trying not to think about while I’m teetering in Ardha Chandrasana with my bottom hand in half prayer at the heart.

(Breathe easy, yogi. I’m not trying to warp your fragile mind…)

I know what you’re thinking. Manifesting your deepest intention and finding your most authentic, highest self while Ziggy Stardust is playing isn’t quite what the Hindus had in mind when yoga was created; and I know, I know, the wisdom traditions from thousands of years ago survived for a reason. and as far as I know, none of them mentions anything about side two of Led Zeppelin I. (Pity.)

Does that mean we have to experience the road toward enlightenment the way the people who came before us? This isn’t Footloose, you guys. Dance, already.

I played Barry Manilow’s “Mandy” the other day in class, during the wind-down toward Savasana. I’m pretty sure one guy had tears in his eyes.

Music can take us to a thousand places at once. It can deconstruct the neuroses and head trips you walked in the door with for your first yoga class, and eventually bring you to an inspired place of harmony.

I’ve seen music bring a room together, and alleviate some of the self-consciousness and annoying insecurities we all have. I’m not living in a cave, nor do I really want to; I want to feel alive, and strong, and taken over by a new power. I want to forget my car registration is due, and remember my karma is (hopefully) somewhat intact.

Do you remember the first album you ever bought? One of mine was Elton John’s Greatest Hits. Sometimes all I need is “Bennie and the Jets” to set me free. Isn’t that what we’re all looking for?

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: via Flickr

Reply to yournotyrmusic cancel

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yournotyrmusic Jan 23, 2014 1:59am

Ultimately I think it's about free market economics. People have a choice of which class they will attend. If they like you, your music and the class you deliver, they will come back. If they don't, they will find another class. If they stop showing up maybe then you will be the one getting on your mat to confront the issues and emotions that come up. Until then, carry on!

Little Orphan Nov 22, 2013 7:24pm

Hi y'all, thanks for reading and commenting! This is what I'm wondering: if there's music playing that brings up any issues or emotions, isn't the mat a perfect place to confront those issues? There's always a bigger picture, and the mat is a mirror of our life. Maybe just be sad, be angry, be annoyed, or what have you. There's nothing to be afraid of, nothing to run from. Watch what comes up, and let it go.

lily Nov 22, 2013 6:38pm

I have often had this thought. I just don't think music in yoga class really is really the best thing, opinions about music are far too varied. Even if it is something that a person likes, many of us have emotions and memories tied to certain songs, I don't know that it really that helpful to be bringing all that up in the middle of yoga class. I am actually a professional classical musician, and in classes with music, I find myself thinking about technical aspects of music production at times, or being annoyed by a pop song where the level of musicianship is particularly low. I am usually just trying to tune it out. Also, my job is to listen, I kind of like not listening for a little while. That's just my perspective, though, I know other folks feel differently. But if you are teaching to large groups of people, perhaps silence is the most neutral?

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Anne Clendening

Anne Clendening was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She is a yoga teacher and author of Bent: How Yoga Saved My Ass, published January, 2018. You can read her darker thoughts on her blog Dirty Blonde Ink. She is currently living in L.A. with her husband and their boxer dog Sabina.