Why Your 3rd Grade Music Teacher Was Wrong

Ever wondered why Christmas caroling feels so good? 

It's because you're doing pranayama, yo!

(Also known as: breathwork.)

When you're singing, your mind is too present to be thinking about your impending finals or the overdue water bill or that one date you totally bombed back in 1998. (Gah, I still cringe remembering that one, too.) You're just breathing, and singing, right where you are. Not-thinking. Just being.

This is meditation. This is yoga.

One of the things I love most about this time of year is that, thanks to Frosty and Rudolph (and, ok, the free-flowing booze), folks seem a little less afraid of singing. When I chant with a yoga class, you can usually assume that about 50% of the room will clench up mortified, frozen, wanting desperately to run out of the room and never come back. Even a simple OM feels daunting, vulnerable.

Singing can be scary if it's not something you're used to doing outside of the shower, or if your 3rd grade music teacher told you to "just lip sync" the words because your voice wasn't quite on pitch.

Screw that. It's a new day, and this is a new body. So write a new story.

We come to the mat knowing we're going to be uncomfortable, to get pushed beyond our edges; to flirt with those edges a bit and then back off before it gets to be too much. Whether it's in a yoga pose or singing a Sanskrit chant; the staying with discomfort stretches you.

So keep singing. Even if it makes you uncomfortable. Especially if it makes you uncomfortable.

(Now off to crank up the Nat King Cole.)


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