MusicMusic Features

Music and Yoga are Halves of a Whole

Editor’s note: Local musician Phelan Lavelle (Shade, Dosed) describes the alternative yoga class she leads each Monday as “frequented by precious local yogis who desire intermediate creative sequencing, flow, B-side soundtracks, 80 minutes to exhibit tenderness towards themselves and free popcorn after. [It’s] open to all, BYO yoga mat. I accept trades, treats or whatever dollar bills you’re able to donate.”

I want to get lifted most of the time. Honestly, I think everyone does. When you find a way to use your body to free your mind, then you’re set, man. There are numerous ways I’ve heard to do this. People speak of the meditative aspects of running, painting, swimming, skateboarding, skydiving, fasting—whatever.

The things I’ve found to float my boat are playing music and doing yoga. Both are means to the same end: transcendence, alignment with truth, an out-of-body experience. To do this, you also must learn to make “presence” a verb. In the vocabulary of Somatic Intelligence, “presenting,” or embodying the infinite, is putting the current moment before any moment that happened in the past or anything that you think is going to happen in the future and being so open in that moment that you are able to disappear—and it’s delicious.

In this way, music and yoga are the same thing. Whether I am slaying sick riffs on my axe or breathing kapalabhati into parivrtta trikonasana, I can sometimes get to the same point in my psychic space, outside my body and beyond my mind. This is so valuable to me. It is truth, because I can’t help what it is. It is brutal and beautiful.

Yoga and music are both basically invisible. They are performative, of-the-moment manifestations, and I like that. You can basically get high following the energy of something you can’t see. It is a practice, and it can go deep. It’s kind of like taking your intrinsic equilibrium and subverting it. You can use that energy to create a new neutral state, so you’re, like, next-level all the time—and there’s always another level, man. 

Incidentally, I love listening to music while I do yoga. In the yoga classes I do every Monday at Flicker, I play a lot of krautrock records. At home, I also like to listen to black metal or anything epic with blast beats where you can’t tell where the rhythm starts and stops. I light a cozy candle and confront the darkness—yin and yang, my brothers and sisters.

In both activities, I like to implement creative visualization. Whether it’s premeditation or whether I’m in a certain song or yoga pose, I am visualizing energy emanating either from my guts/Manipura chakra and shooting out everywhere like a dying star, or coming up from the ground and going through me like a wick on a super-slow bomb. In any case, I am not me; I am before me or after me, which are the same nothing.

This is beyond wearing beads and douching with new-age water. This is about the tools that we utilize to save ourselves, to know ourselves, to cultivate a relationship with ourselves—the first and most important relationship we have. When that is good, we are magnets for good shit. 

With yoga, you can apply your expression to your body and your breath and manipulate these so that they can be one onto themselves. This is the same with making music. Utilizing an instrument to express a certain feeling creates a thing that can stand whole on its own: a song. This is a gift you have been given, creation. Any dumbass can do it, but to do it with a specific intention and to follow through with discipline is something to be learned. 

And I have learned that learning is to be learned. Constant and mindful attention. Attention is our currency. It is what we have to give and to take. We are so lucky for even that. And if you can also afford dog food and wine and good records and a cool jean jacket, then you’re super lucky.

WHAT: Flicker Yoga
WHERE: Flicker Theatre & Bar
WHEN: Every Monday, 6:30 p.m.
HOW MUCH: FREE! (donations encouraged)