How yoga made me fall in love with music again
After a few years working in music journalism, the thing I adored had become a means to an end. Returning to yoga helped me remember who I was, and just why music was so special to me in the first place.
If someone asked me in early 2020 why I stopped practising yoga, I would’ve probably answered – while balancing a vodka soda in one hand and my cellphone in the other – “who has the time?”. I was unabashedly addicted to being overwhelmed, and despite its detrimental impact on my mental and physical health, I admit I loved the thrill of it. My heart beating fast as I clicked submit on an article moments before darting out the door to catch a gig, typing feverishly into my notes app as the band took the stage, too preoccupied to appreciate the present moment, busily writing the story in my head.
“If someone asked me in early 2020 why I stopped practising yoga, I would’ve probably answered – while balancing a vodka soda in one hand and my cellphone in the other – ‘who has the time?'”
As a music editor living in New York City – arguably the busiest city in the world – I wore my lack of time like a badge. These eye bags? I was up editing stories until the wee hours of the morning! Your missed call? Sorry, didn’t see it, I was at the Megan Thee Stallion release party! The city never slept, and neither did I – that is, until March of that year when the whole world came to a screeching halt.
I got into music journalism entirely by accident. I wanted to see The Killers play a festival, but had already spent an obscene amount of money on concerts that year. My partner at the time was crystal clear that there was no way we were investing in another concert trip. However, my inner-rebel persevered. I was going to go to that festival, and I’d figure out a way. I remember sitting in the kitchen when the idea dropped into my head from nowhere: ‘write about it.’ Hours later, I had thrown together a website, published the only article on music I’d ever written on it, and sent emails to music festival blogs, sharing my portfolio (if you could call it that) while telling them I’d review the festival in exchange for a press pass.
As luck would have it, one of them said yes. It was a staggering revelation for me – that my love for writing and love of music were two sides of the same coin. After that festival, I fell face-first into the realisation that all I wanted to do, for as long as I was able, was write about music and be as close to music as humanly possible.
“Even live music, something I had likened to a religious experience, was relegated to another means to an end”
Fast forward four years later. That inciting rush – that pure love for experiencing sound that made me burn down my whole life and move states to New York in pursuit of a career in journalism in the first place – had somehow been buried under my desire to be seen as successful. Even live music, something I had likened to a religious experience, was relegated to another means to an end.
For years I’d had my mindset on two goals: move to New York and become a music editor. It was only a few short weeks after we realised just how serious Covid-19 was that I had fled to my parents’ house in the suburban South and gotten furloughed from my dream job. I lost my sense of self and was angry at the Universe for giving me a taste of what I wanted before unceremoniously snatching it out of my hands.
I spent the first months of lockdown missing the chaos, longing for the unbridled busy, and nursing an ego that had become accustomed to the shallow validation of social media likes, free drinks and guest list passes that came with writing about music for a living.
But then, the silence started to feel expansive. I could appreciate, for once, that I had time to hear my thoughts, perhaps even shift them. ‘What if I took advantage of this time at home?’ I thought, surprising myself, ‘What if I started practising yoga again?’ Like many of the healthy habits I had before becoming an editor, yoga had slowly been replaced with a desire to work as much as possible. Pausing and being in the present moment, two things an ongoing yoga practice required, felt counterproductive to my career goals.
But now, with nowhere to go or anything to do, the allure of meditative movement came back to me. At first, I’d watch YouTube videos, clunking my way through poses my body had seemingly forgotten. Slowly, however, my body started to remember, and I could practice my sun salutations without a guiding video, playing a curated selection of music in the background while putting my full attention into my body and out of my mind. This is when something magical started to happen.
“On my yoga mat, inhaling and exhaling between each transition, folding myself forward as Arctic Monkeys played through my headphones, I felt like I was gently being reminded of who I was”
After being furloughed, I had stopped writing about music altogether. Not for myself or for publications, and for a while I toyed with the idea of shifting permanently back into my original career of content marketing. But on my yoga mat, inhaling and exhaling between each transition, folding myself forward, or bending backward, as Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Mad Sounds’ played through my headphones, I felt like I was gently being reminded of who I was.
Just like the postures came back to my body, so did that unadulterated love for music. As the playlist got longer, so did my time spent practising and nurturing that love. I’d quickly move through a sun salutation B, matching my pace to the rhythm of The Killers’ ‘Spaceman’ or lay flat on my back in Savasana, letting my mind go silent and heartbeat slow to the sound of The Strokes asking, “Is this it?”. Each track was embedded with a nostalgic memory: they were all songs I loved before I’d even imagined being a music journalist. Yoga reintroduced me to music as a means of joy – and, with that being the only goal, it felt safe to embrace it again. It wasn’t long after my daily yoga playlist practice that I started to write again.
Now, I’m back in the city and in less than a week I’ll be back to writing about music full-time again. I’m aware of the predicament I find myself in. What if I fall back into busy? What if I forget the reason I started writing in the first place? What if music becomes just a means to an end? But now I have an escape route from those thoughts. A yoga mat, my body, and songs that remind me of myself. More importantly, I have a deep inner knowledge that music will never again just be a means to an end for me, but the end itself.