Consciousness,  Practice,  Yoga Culture

Dubstep yoga: An experiment in grounding in the primal.

This past weekend I experienced  the blending two movement genres that made for a tantalizing experience outside of the mundane.  Dubstep yoga was conscious movement class in the basement studio of Edmonton’s premiere superfood eatery – Noorish Cafe.  The class began with an introduction to the dubstep electronic dance genre before we warmed up our bodies with a vinyasa yoga sequence lead by Edmonton teacher Graham Parsons.    The class was filled with the typical ocean of female 20-something lulu-warriors with a few young men nestled amonst us like red smarties in a box of monochromatic eye-candy.   Trendy, urbanite yoga culture fascinates me.   Hoards of beautiful people line studio’s like artwork – sculptures –  beautiful and yet frozen in time,  immobilized  by something.  What is it that I sense in so many yoga scene’s that feels so unfree to me?  As we stuffed ourselves in a tiny waiting area I was struck by the way I could see the women scanned each other with their peripheral vision, careful not to make eye contact and certain to not lose composure.  Although our physical proximity was close there seemed a great distance between each other and it made me feel sad.   I was at first embarassed, but then relieved, when my own tension was broken by dumping someone’s green supersludge smoothie all over the only bench in the waiting room.  By the time I got to cleaning it up another woman had partially sat in it and the ensuing joke warmed the cool ambiance for a moment and put me at greater ease.   A moment of connection …. ahhhhh.    The yoga portion of this two hour class was a moderately vigorous physical level and Graham’s teaching was articulate, well paced and included a smattering of  inspirational philosophy from time to time.  I enjoyed the sequence and felt myself already beginning to shift and sway to the subtle background electronica that played throughout.  The last portion of the class was dedicated to free, conscious movement to the beat of the intensified dubstep mix now blaring throughout an already sauna like studio.  Astraea Starr, an Edmonton ecstatic dance teacher, lead the first few mintues of this free movement which started in child pose.  She encouraged us to stay low on the ground, connecting through our first chakra- “making love to the earth”, as she put it.  Right.  Make love to the earth.  I found myself oscilating between my cerebral cortex asking “what the hell does that mean?”, to a genuine brain stem experience of connecting primally to my root energies, feeling the dub thumping like my own heart beat, feeling the floor beneath me like my own body. Every once in a while I would open my eyes and watch the scene unfold around me.  Would the sculptures melt?  What do we do, collectively, when we are invited to just move freely?  It proved a difficult task for some, and myself at times, to get the insecurities out of the way to unlock authentic movement.  It would rise up for me and I’d be taken by a wave of freedom – heels pounding, arms flailing – and then it would die down again, oppressed by the heat and the watchful eye of the “other”.  Although a common beat thread through our very cells the distance between us remained.  I became aware of the irony of 30 modern urbanites, paying to connect to our spontaneous primal nature.  Can something like this be contrived? The root chakra is inherently tribal, and modern yoga culture can be considerably individualistic.  Nature is inherently unfettered, a yoga studio is laden with cultural rules and expectations. It felt like something more was needed in order to bridge the gap between these paradigms in this class.  In the midst, I wanted the teacher’s to name the difficulty of releasing ourselves to spontaneity, to guide us through our own encapsulation toward personal and collective freedom.  I believe teachers are meant guide us into the sensations, throughts and emotions colliding in awareness as we ache to be release from frozen, sculptured habits.  Of course, in the end, other’s may not have had any experience of this sort.  I checked with the friend I went with to see if her experience was similar, and it was.  I am left wondering about my own role in bringing the tribal, collective, root energy to yoga scene’s where we seem to be entranced by cultural parameters and norms.  Can we jump off the frozen yoga image bandwagon and genuinely dig ourselves into dirt of the dynamic artwork othat is our own messy humanness? And can we do it together? I think this is a tall order, and until then I will have to continue to hope for awkward smoothie dumping moments to break the ice that is sometimes crystallized between the tender and seemingly isolated hearts of modern yogi’s.