60 More Days On the Mat: Clarity


Record Player

When I was a kid I took ballet classes at CATS.  One of our favorite things to ask for (especially on a cold, rainy night) was a stretch class.  I remember begging the teachers for this class and always wishing there was a way to take stretch class instead of ballet?

I think my inherent desire to stretch is where my humble yoga beginnings originated.  But anyone who really does yoga will tell you — it is no stretch class.  I found out early on how letting go in all of your tight spots (which tend to be the same for many of us) could open me up not just in my body — but my mind and more importantly, my spirit.  I always felt the world came into better focus — more clarity — when I was all stretched out an unwound.  Hence my addictions to massages and yoga.  I suppose it is the same for all of us, though I do know people who hate massages.

I feel about those people the way I feel about people who do not like animals.  How could you possibly not like a massage?

My theory is I am a Type A mind trying to control a Type B soul.  My Type B soul is always having to send my Type A mind out for maintenance to calm her down.

Some people function at a higher level under stress.  They get energy from it.  I do not.

There was no time for a yoga class today, but I did go to the mat.  I did ten sun salutations this morning which are just great for building a quick flow when you cannot make it to class.  Tonight after we had tucked the boys in bed and had dinner, I treated myself to self-directed yin yoga for an entire album.  Sarah Jarosz — Song Up In Her Head.  It was her first album.  I found her because I read an interview with Steve Martin and he named her as a great up and coming bluegrass artist; one of his favorite.  He was right.  Plus she’s from Texas.    There is just something about Texas musicians.  Of course, I’m biased.

I started doing these self-directed “stretch” classes in college listening to Barbra Streisand’s The Broadway Album.  Night after night I would listen to that album trying to open up all of the tight spots.  I cannot imagine listening to the same album night after night today — I have more than 8000 songs in my music collection.  My musical tastes span multiple genres.  There is so much great music out there now — more than ever if you take the time to stop and listen.  You have to comb the right websites and read local magazines with up and coming musicians.  This is how I found the Avett Brothers and Sarah Jarosz.

Here are just a few of the places I go:

Garden and Gun — Back Porch Music Sessions

Oxford American

Texas Monthly

Paste Magazine

This is just a few of my hot spots.  Any local magazine or paper when you’re traveling is always great.  I used to collect CDs from everywhere I traveled.  It became difficult to find the right music, and I found myself coming home with bad music just so I could say I “collected” local music — so now I make a point of searching for it when I can.  Pandora introduces me to a lot as well.

As I was stretching tonight, holding each pose for the entire length of a song, I decided this had to continue.  Soaking up the music.  Listening to complete albums.  It was incredibly relaxing to be able to just open up and take in the music completely.  We so rarely have time to listen to entire albums anymore.  We often buy songs one at a time never being forced to listen to Side B.  Sometime the greatest stuff is on Side B.  Of course, we don’t really have sides anymore.

I am dating myself by the second here.  But that’s okay.  I would not want to be any other age because it’s not a number, it’s a statement of your life experience.  The higher it gets, the more I have.  We should all wear it as a badge of honor.

Taking the time to soak up a good songwriter is a pretty spectacular way to spend an evening.  Tonight I remembered how much I used to love to do this.  Sarah Jarosz is an old soul living in a 22-year old body.  You can feel this with each track.  I have listened to this album many times, but when your headphones are one and you’re stretching out the stresses of the day — your soul really has nothing to focus on but the music, and mine drinks it in like a fine glass of wine.

I did not have a fine glass of wine — I had a fine cup of tea.

Cup of Tea

This next week is going to be crazy.  Friday all of us head to San Francisco and then San Antonio for work — then the boys and I take a quick overnight in Dallas to see family.

I might be insane by the end of it — but I’ll try to stop and soak up the music when I can — and get Type B to keep Type A in check.

Namaste Day 3.

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