Ric Ocasek, founding member and lead singer of The Cars, got called Home this Sunday.
While he wasn't a close friend or family member, the band's music helped me make sense of bad breakups, complicated feelings and made me feel more empathetic to others (there are people I've known who I could not begin to understand if I had never heard "Drive").
When artists pass, those of us that feel an affinity towards their work cannot help but feel the loss.
I knew I wanted to use Ric's work to inspire my classes this week---more so than just playing my favorite tunes as we moved through the asanas--and I finally decided to teach how yoga can help us better value each moment of our life. This is why I focused classes this week on "shaking up" the typical class (and if you don't get the song I'm referencing, please do yourself a favor and listen here).
As those in our ”Absolute Beginners” class will learn, many yoga classes follow a basic template. For example, you will almost always perform sun salutations, and there are several good reasons for sticking with familiar postures. For one, the more you’ve practiced a pose, the more likely you’ll engage the correct muscle groups and the less likely you’ll hurt yourself. I teach a sun salute variation in nearly every class.
This week, in honor of The Cars and for the sake of being weird, I subbed a moon salutation series. The switch-up had the desired effect. My regulars moved out of robot yogi mode and started totally listening to prompts. I also noticed people making more adjustments than normal and experimenting with the asanas. After class, several students said class was harder than usual, but they loved it.
Adding this variety not only makes the on-mat experience more fun, it can also help you build presence off the mat. Yoga teaches presence, especially when the poses are difficult or new. Since you need to focus fully on the breath and what your body is doing, your monkey mind will likely quiet. The more we practice this stillness on the mat, the easier it gets to return to a still mind when life gets chaotic.
Not only does this stillness help with stress relief and mental health, it also helps us value each moment. As Ric’s passing shows, life is fleeting. We should learn to enjoy each minute of it.