Certain songs carry me back.
Without a second thought, a song can make me remember a time, a place, a person, a feeling.
Music does this. It brings memories to mind in an instant, measuring out segments of times long thought forgotten.
Not every yoga class has music, but I was fortunate enough to start at a studio that was somehow plugged into my playlist.
Elton John. Van Morrison. Bob and Damien Marley. Eric Clapton. The Beatles. Seal. And more.
Like most of us, I seem to have a soundtrack that marks time from my childhood into my adulthood.
In elementary school, I would put my transistor radio in the basket of my bicycle and spend hours working on drawings of the album covers of Elton John and the Beatles. I awoke to music every morning on my clock radio and, every night, I played records on my stereo, a gift from my parents for my eleventh birthday.
My first loves were Michael Jackson and Donny Osmond, both of whom I plastered on my walls before graduating to David Cassidy whose picture I proudly carried on my lunch box.
In one of my yoga classes early on, one song played, and I called out, Fifth Grade!
Led Zeppelin, The Who, Queen and Peter Frampton formed the backdrop to my middle school years and boys and dances, and songs from Chicago, Boston, Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles are forever embedded in my brain from my time on my high school Pom Pom squad.
Cat Stevens and Jimmy Buffet joined me at the beach during my college years; Diana Ross was the envy of all my sorority sisters, and I remember exactly where I was when Michael Jackson did his moonwalk. There was never a time that we got ready to go out without Michael, Earth Wind and Fire or the Commodores on the turntable.
Early on, I did some public relations for the yoga studio, and I was putting pen to paper for a press release. As part of this, I asked my instructor what would appeal about yoga to those who might not buy into the spiritual side.
Don’t you feel good from the workout and the music? he asked. That feeling is spiritual, too.
My children grew up listening to so much of my music, and me to theirs. My son had his tonsils out, and we all were in the house for a week during his recovery with Hootie and the Blowfish playing every day for seven days straight. We called Van Morrison our company music and played it every time we had people over for dinner. It was such a staple that I sent my daughter to college with the soundtrack in case she got homesick.
I still make my kids crazy with $20 bets to see if they can guess the artist playing on the radio and even made one such bet with my daughter during our first private yoga session when Into the Mystic came on by Van Morrison.
We spent hours and hours listening to music while doing arts and crafts at the kitchen table and, to this day, Paul Simon’s Graceland CD is forever linked to my daughter’s first store order when we played it repeatedly while beading 90 necklaces by lantern light during a storm when the power went out.
My son seems to have my same love of music but has a playlist 100 times longer. Often, I call to tell him what song is on the radio, and he sends me names of songs and singers he thinks I will like.
Check out Michael Franti, one such text said. Already familiar, I just texted back, Say Hey, I Love You!
And when Michael Jackson died, I was overcome with a surprising sadness, because it was larger for me than just losing him. He had lost me for awhile, but once I lost him, I returned, buying up a bunch of his music. It was like part of my history was gone, and I wanted it back.
To begin our yoga class, my instructor turns on the music and announces the opening pose.
The other morning, it was Child’s Pose. I placed my knees on either side of the mat, put my forehead down and stretched my arms forward, dropping my heart. He lowered the lights, and the music began to play.
I cannot really explain it further, but my mind instantly settled as the music filled the room.
I inhaled deeply and let it fill me, too.