Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Heavy Metal Yoga

Yoga Vibe's Heavy Metal Yoga class is as contradictory and fantastic as it sounds. It's a laid back vinyasa flow class set to instructor Jesse's heavy metal playlist. This time it happened to be Electric Wizard's Dopethrone album. I will not pretend to know who Electric Wizard is, other than someone who is awesome at naming things.

I thought it might be a little jarring, the juxtaposition of loud, heavy music and the calm zen-ness of yoga. But once I was in class I didn't feel that way at all. I liked the contrast between the intensity of the music and the relaxed nature of the movements. I found it metaphoric, like the metal was all the chaos of life swirling around me but I was content in the eye of the storm, going with the flow. At the beginning of class, Jesse said "It's not about feeling good all the time. It's showing up where you are and being okay with that." Which is good advice for the practice of yoga and for the practice of life.

Surprisingly, I felt more focused in this class than I usually do in yoga. The music simply became part of the ambient noise. Probably because I don't normally listen to heavy metal. I don't know any of the songs or the words, so the music didn't evoke any memories or emotional responses like familiar songs would. Basically, there was nothing to distract my brain from focusing on the present. Usually the only place I ever find myself completely "in the moment" is during a trail run where all my attention is concentrated on the current step (to avoid faceplanting or falling off a cliff). But now it seems I have two meditative places: trails and heavy metal concerts.

At the end of class, Jesse said "The darkness in me recognizes the darkness in you. Party on." Which makes more sense to me than "Namaste" ever has. It's like those moments where I hear someone's life stories and recognize myself in their struggles. And suddenly I realize the reason we became so close is the instant connection that results from understanding both the darkness and the lightness, and especially from bringing the darkness into the light. And then partying on through the chaos together.

Lyric of the moment: "Millions are screaming, the dead are still living. This earth has died yet no one has seen... Nuclear warheads ready to strike. This world is so fucked, let's end it tonight. Fuck..." ~Electric Wizard "Funeralopolis" (If Mr. Internet hadn't told me that this song was released in 2000, I would have thought it was written by someone watching the current presidential election season).

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