As a yoga instructor, an important part of my job is creating the perfect playlist. A key component of establishing a yoga practice and enjoying it is finding the right music to relax, inspire, push, and support you.
Different points of a yoga class involve building heat and flexibility, and eventually taking rest and restorative poses; this guide illustrates how the soundtrack to your yoga practice must follow the rhythm and flow of your movements.
Each class structure has a unique vibe that calls for different levels of energy, power, and mood. I teach vinyasa yoga, which is a class involving multiple “flows,” or sequences of poses. In vinyasa yoga, each class focuses on building heat gradually and increasing strength and flexibility over an hour-long practice.
While some vinyasa classes may involve core-targeted sequences or more fast-paced queuing in order to increase your heart rate, others may be slower and focus more on holding postures to build strength. Thus, different styles of vinyasa may require different types of music.
For example, in a faster-paced, more core-focused Hot Vinyasa class, artists like Gallantis and Kanye West will be more inspiring and enjoyable. On the other hand, a slower, more strength-focused Blend Vinyasa class requires a centering, slower-paced ODESZA beat or even Maggie Rogers.
First and foremost, it’s important to address this “build-up” of energy and what kind of music this requires. Many studios will start most, if not all, of their classes with a “sacred space.” This usually entails 3-5 minutes of mindfulness and meditation, allowing students to begin class in a restful pose.
Many instructors use this point in class to set a theme or intention, maybe starting with a personal anecdote to lead into a broader meaning or just reminding students to move with intention and come back to the breath when the practice becomes difficult.
A general rule for sacred space is to never play songs that have words or concrete lyrics, as this point in class is a crucial time for students to ground themselves in the space and find stillness and mindfulness without the distraction of song lyrics.
My favorite go-to sacred space song is “LBL” by Cospe because the beat is soothing but it isn’t too slow to the point that students would fall asleep or drift off from my words. Another favorite is “Light Blue” by UTAH because it is also a soothing beat, but it is slightly more energetic and creates almost a sunny aura in the room. The way I set sacred space depends on the type of class.
While in a morning Hot Vinyasa class, I may use an upbeat song like “Wilder” by Homsey or “Daylight” by Beauvois. In a slower, afternoon Blend Vinyasa class, I may use a more calming melody like “Chihiro” by Yoste or “Orange Sky – Instrumental” by Sol Rising to give students more of a chance to settle in.
Though this may seem like a lot of thought put into only the first four minutes of class, these first four minutes ultimately set the tone for the entire hour. The song choice in sacred space will signify if the next hour will be rigorous, edgy, and elated, or more comforting, slow, and peaceful.
Sun Salutation A’s (or “Surya Namaskara A” in Sanskrit) are the next piece to the heat build-up of vinyasa classes. These are the first flow of a vinyasa class and are the same every time. I like to call them our “yoga jumping jacks,” and use songs that are upbeat and almost impossible not to move to.
My favorites to use are:
–Better Not – Acoustic by Louis the Child
-The Little Things – Kasbo Remix by Big Gigantic
–Anything For You by Chelsea Cutler
–Starlight by Jai Wolf
–Easy Loving You (with Kamille) by SG Lewis
In this way, students can gradually build heat to it. Sun A’s are also a great way to wake students up and get them excited about moving.
My favorite energetic Sun A’s are:
–Good Nights (feat. Mascolo) by Whethan
I love these songs because they are cheery and warm. Sun A’s can be a great way to set the tone; some teachers may add in a mini power flow or extra chaturangas to jumpstart a more rigorous class.
Music selection during Sun B’s should signify that students will start to up the ante in their practice. For a Blend class, the first round of a Sun B flow will be slower, and poses will be held for longer. Even then, I still choose music that’s faster than Sun A’s and keeps students in the mindset to sweat.
Some of my favorite Sun B’s for Blend (and sometimes Hot Vinyasa, depending on the day) are:
-Lovers in Japan – Osaka Sun Mix by Coldplay
-Don’t Move by Phantogram
-Moon by Kid Francescoli
-Anywhere u go by Tove Lo.
In a Hot Vinyasa class, some instructors may choose to play songs that are more fast-paced sooner during Sun B’s because the “one breath per movement” pace is usually set by the first round of the flow.
My go-tos are:
-Call on Me – Ryan Riback Remix by Starley
-Places We Don’t Know by Kasbo
-Do You Mean (feat. Ty Dolla $ign & bülow) – Myon Remix by The Chainsmokers
-Fire (Viceroy Remix) by VHS Collection
-Mother’s Daughter by Miley Cyrus
-Aftergold (feat. Tove Styrke) by Big Wild
The artist ODESZA is one of my ultimate favorite artists and go-tos to play during class. Some amazing songs by them include:
-Across the Room (feat. Leon Bridges)
-Higher Ground (feat. Naomi Wild)
-Sun Models (feat. Madelyn Grant)
-A Moment Apart
-Always This Late
Core is a section of class that can be tricky. You want a song that will motivate you and make you want to work harder, but you also want to keep the mood light and fun. Some songs I typically use are:
-Run It Up by DDG
-Kiss It Better – R3hab Remix by Rihanna
-Go Off by M.I.A
-Love$ick (feat. A$ap Rocky)” by Mura Masa
Sometimes instructors use the beat of the song to do repeated movements on timed breath queues, as this makes the core work feel more like dancing than forced exercise. In many cases, a fast-paced beat or high-intensity melody will inspire you to give it your all.
Next up are either Sun C’s or longer holding poses. In Hot Vinyasa, Sun C’s will be the fastest-paced and most rigorous flows of class. They involve big, difficult pose transitions including balancing poses and core strengtheners, so they require some dance-party-esque music to help empower students through their practice.
I usually use:
– Say My Name (feat. Zyra) – RAC Mix by ODESZA
-I Got U by Duke Dumont
-Nights With You – Cheat Codes Remix by MØ
-Water Me by Lizzo
-Midnight City by M83.
However, in Blend Vinyasa, there are no Sun C’s; after core or inversion work, students will go straight into longer holding poses or mobility work. For both Hot and Blend Vinyasa, I’ll start Logs off with upbeat music that is slower-paced but keeps the tone optimistic, such as songs like:
-Glad He’s Gone by Tove Lo
-Safe by Bay Ledges
-Closer by POWERS
-Glitter by BENEE
-Explosions by The Mary Onettes
As students get deeper into these longer-held poses, I’ll then transition into songs that are still upbeat but have a more inspirational tone to help push them through. For example, songs like:
-Falls (feat. Sasha Sloan) by ODESZA
-Fallingwater by Maggie Rogers
-GIRL by Maren Morris
-Good Things Fall Apart (with Jon Bellion) by ILLENIUM
All these songs have empowering melodies and lyrics.
When I queue the option for students to close their eyes in order to help them accept and settle into a pose that they’re holding for a long time, songs like these help students ground themselves and recommit to their breath.
The yin portion of the class is imperative in determining how students will feel walking out of the studio. Intentional tone is super important in setting this restful mood. Students may settle into their final place of rest either feeling warm-hearted and invigorated or sentimental and open. This is all determined by the end-of-class song choice.
For a more soothing ending, I like to use:
-Freight Train by Sara Jackson-Holoman
-Ghosts by On An On
-The City Limit by Umbrellas.
For a more sentimental or emotional experience, I’ll use:
– Scott Street by Phoebe Bridges
– Everyday Life by Coldplay
-Fade Into You by Mazzy Star
– First Winter by Wrabel
– Big Black Car by Gregory Alan Isakov.
Finally, most yogis will end their practice in Savasana, or “final rest.” This part of class is probably one of the hardest, as we as humans have an impossible time finding a happy medium of not sleeping but staying still, being mindful, and keeping our eyes closed. Before I started teaching yoga, I had never meditated and didn’t understand the appeal of music without lyrics.
Now, I’ve found a new appreciation for melodies that can stand alone and still be beautiful. Songs like:
– Cloud Speed by Sad Souls
-Inside by East Forest
-Faith’s Hymn by Beautiful Chorus
– Chasing Cloud Nine by LUCHS
-Lunar Rainbow by Eskimotion
These songs will put you into almost a hypnotic trance because they’re so soothing and gorgeous.
Over time, learning in my own practice to balance the yin and the yang and just accept rest has shown me how essential it is to provide that safe and relaxing space for others. It may seem counterintuitive to engage students with music when they’re in a meditative rest, but music is an element of that rest that can provide you with comfort and something to ground you on your mat.
An Under-Discussed Eating Disorder and What to Do if You Have It
Have you ever watched a video of someone eating dirt on Instagram? Or, have you watched a video on YouTube of someone swallowing chunks of clay? If you encountered these bizarre videos, there is more than pure nonsense. It’s an eating disorder called ”pica.” This illness causes an urge to eat nonfood substances such as dirt, clay, mud, chalk, cement, and bricks.
The term to describe the habit of eating earth matter is called ”geophagy.” About two million years ago, this practice began for cultural and medicinal purposes. Somehow humans figured out that clay stops diarrhea. The Greek island of Lemnos and a grotto in Bethlehem were both popular sites of medicinal clay in the 20th century.
The origins of pica are also found in animal behavior. There is the possibility that humans could have imitated certain species that ate dirt. The Amazonian parrot is known for eating clay. A toxin called quinidine sulfate is found in some of the plants that these parrots eat. When the parrots consume the clay, it prevents them from absorbing this harmful substance. Baboons also eat dirt.
Dr. Young, author of the book ”Craving Earth: Understanding Pica: The Urge to Eat Clay, Starch, Ice, and Chalk,” states that baboons eat dirt to protect themselves from bacteria and parasites found in their bodies.
Pica occurs all over the world, but it affects mostly women and children in developing countries. Especially, some pregnant women tend to crave earthy flavors which may place them at risk. When I was pregnant, I’ve experienced this unusual craving. I was recommended to eat edible red clay sold at the online store, Etsy.
I navigated the website clicking on my options: from Mississippi brown dirt to Georgia’s white dirt. None of these vendors guaranteed me that it was safe to ingest them. I ignored my strange craving with multivitamins until my daughter was born. But, women in the developing world find clay by their own means.
In Kyrgyzstan, women seek their favorite clay in the Tien Shan Mountains. They firmly believe that this clay has medicinal purposes to cure anemia, and it works as a multivitamin for pregnant women. Could these women be diagnosed with pica? According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), they can’t.
The DSM-5 indicates that a person should be diagnosed with pica if the two following criteria apply: a persistent need to eat nonfood substances for at least a month and the eating behavior is not part of cultural practices.
The latter one tells us that the women in Kyrgyzstan, due to cultural norms, shouldn’t be diagnosed with pica because they believe in the medicinal properties of clay. Nevertheless, doctors in this country don’t support this practice.
The most prominent cause of pica is iron deficiency. The National Eating Disorder Association asserts that people with this eating disorder lack essential vitamins and minerals, like iron and zinc. These minerals can be found in certain types of clay. But this pica is not limited to eating earthy substances.
The DSM-5 includes paper, soap, cloth, hair, string, wool, talcum powder, paint, and even metal as nonfood items ingested by people with this eating disorder.
When YouTube blogger Marta Riva was asked about the ingredients in the shortbread “cookies” she eats in her videos, she answered, “I made these cookies myself. They are porous and dry with the smell of rain and dust.” Marta added a drooling happy face and a thumbs up to her answer.
The shortbread “cookies” she referred to are made of halva clay. She has about 20.6k subscribers for her blog featuring videos of herself eating different types of clay. Her most viewed video has 70,000 views.
If you have pica, you can get any type of clay or any type of dirt through Instagram. You may choose among rose clay, white Turkestan, copper nakumatt, mini clay pots, magmitti, ruby red, Christmas clay, almond clay, ural clay, and several others. The price is about $16 for one pound. “I’m shipping on Wednesday, to New York, it will take three to five days,” said the Instagram user from California under the name of “ms.lovelycrunch.”
“You may order here,” answered another Instagram seller under the name of “new_yummyindianclays.” “It will take four to five days,” she added. Her profile bio says, “No refunds, No collect on delivery!”
Among the different types of dirt available on Instagram are Sedona red dirt, OG tan, grey dirt, Utah mountain dirt, red brick dirt, sunny white dirt, and even something called, “construction dirt.” Only a few of these videos specify that the earthy substances are not being swallowed. But the majority of these users seem to be swallowing the nonfood substances, including big pieces of chalk dipped in clay “paste.”
These aficionados describe their favorite earthy dishes as, “shortbread cookies with cream, dirt cupcakes, chocolate dirt popsicle, biscuits, clay muffin, clay cereal, and chalk bars.” Instagram user, “picaapeople_2019” provides instructions on her post: “bake the dirt for about eight hours at 200 degrees.” Unless it is a fallacy, I am assuming she does this for sterilization purposes.
Other users with a more meticulous palate like to describe the taste. “Perfect crispy, earthy cement and dusty basement with great taste and smell of hot dry land splashed with water or shower rain,” says the user “limestone_cay” referring to her favorite clay, silver rose.
In another post, this same user describes the taste of Blackhall clay, “love the burnt wood and gas infused flavor. Earthy cement and metallic taste and it doesn’t stick! “As mentioned, if you ingest nonfood substances for at least a month and it’s not related to cultural practices, most likely, you’ll be diagnosed with pica. But this strange addiction doesn’t stop here.
Unfortunately, as you could’ve imagined, there are serious risk factors with the consumption of these substances. The DSM states that people with pica are usually diagnosed after they are hospitalized for bowel problems, intestinal obstruction, intestinal perforation, lead poisoning, and infections due to ingesting feces found in the dirt (toxoplasmosis and toxocariasis).
NEDA advises the public that people with pica can ingest hazardous chemicals. A challenge that professionals face is that people with pica often have a dual diagnosis. They usually have other mental disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and intellectual disabilities.
The good news is that there is treatment. “Treating this deficiency with medication or vitamins often resolves the problems,” NEDA indicates on its website.
Even though videos about people eating nonfood substances are widely available on Instagram and YouTube, it is important to be aware that there are serious health risks involving this illness. If you or someone you know are experiencing cravings of nonfood substances, you may seek help by calling a professional, either a doctor or a therapist.
The Recovery Village is an institution that has a 24-hour intake line for people with eating disorders. It has several centers around the United States, and besides outpatient treatment, it also offers teletherapy and online counseling.
What will Live Music Venues Look Like After Lockdown?
The day everything got shut down in March was the day before I had tickets to see one of my favorite artists, Grace Potter, live. One day, I was preparing to go downtown to a venue I had never been to before, and the next, gatherings of over fifty people were banned. Potter said the remaining shows on her tour would be postponed. But when will concerts happen again?
Live music is a strange concept to think about after six months of pandemic quarantine. Being packed together with other fans on a hot, sweaty, crowded dance floor is not the best situation to be in when we’re supposed to be six feet apart. Singing along to your favorite songs is a high-risk activity.
Breathing all over strangers might never feel like a normal experience again. The pandemic will surely impact live music, and the way it will be able to happen again will be different from concerts we’ve been to before.
With concerts postponed or canceled for the foreseeable future, music venues are struggling. A dramatic decrease in income has the potential to forever change the landscape of where we see live music. In Oregon, the government distributed 50 million dollars to venues and art organizations.
Famous and iconic venues, such as the 9:30 Club in DC, might be forced to permanently close due to lack of funds and revenue. One of Nashville’s most iconic venues, The Bluebird Cafe, is famous due to its intimate shows that have the audience basically seated next to the artist. Of course, in pandemic times this is almost a laughable idea.
“I think we could reopen at a limited capacity, sort of spiritually, but economically there has to be a break-even,” says general manager Erika Wollam Nichols. “We already have a very thin margin.”
The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), which is a group made up of over 2,000 venues, is calling on Congress to pass the RESTART Act, which would provide relief for small businesses. NIVA has also started the Emergency Relief Fund and is asking Congress and music fans alike to help save their stages.
Although there are folks out there fighting hard for live music, it is possible that with significantly fewer independent venues, live music will look very different once we are allowed to see shows again. The economic downturn due to COVID-19 isn’t over yet, and it is probable that venues will continue to suffer.
Innovations in live music
Drive-in concerts have gained popularity in recent months. Artists from Blake Shelton to Nelly have booked drive-in shows, where fans drive their cars up to a designated tailgating zone. Social distancing and masks are encouraged. It is likely that this will become a new way to see live shows; although less intimate than typical live shows, it is an alternative that prioritizes safety for concertgoers and artists.
However, that all depends on those gatherings happening safely: a Chainsmokers concert in the Hamptons in late July is under investigation because footage of the show displays a complete lack of social distancing. Although other drive-in concerts have been done successfully, there is still some risk associated with shows like these.
Another new form of “live” music performances is live streaming. Hosting award shows and normal concerts through live streams has become an avenue for artists to continue playing for their fans. Grace Potter, the artist I was supposed to see in March, started doing “Twilight Hour” live streams every Monday evening on YouTube.
There have also been virtual concerts with multiple big-name artists performing, including the Together at Home virtual relief concert put on by Global Citizen, which raised money for COVID-19 relief. Kevin Lyman, the founder of the Vans Warped Tour, predicts that live-streamed concerts could become the new normal for 10% of concertgoers, even after the pandemic has ended. “I believe that some are carving out a niche and will prosper post-COVID-19,” Lyman says.
Unfortunately, industry experts and healthcare professionals don’t foresee live music returning until at least 2021. It’s also not the biggest priority for health officials, which makes sense—a vaccine, better treatments, and better testing are more important right now.
“It’s certainly not very high on my list of concerns as far as a return to normalcy, as much as I like a good Elton John concert,” says Peter Bach, Director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes. Factors that could shift this timeline would be better testing or a vaccine, but that’s unlikely to come before 2021—most health officials say that the public won’t have access to a vaccine until February at the earliest, or, more likely, not until the summer.
A New Normal
All in all, going to concerts in the future will include precautions that will help maintain this new kind of normal. Industry experts predict that masks and temperature checks will become commonplace at shows, and there will be many more adaptations. Outdoor concerts will probably be the safest to attend right off the bat, and hopefully, once it’s safe indoor venues will open too.
I’m looking forward to the day that I’ll feel safe walking into my favorite music venue and seeing my favorite artist again, but until then, I’ll keep watching live streams from home and streaming my favorite albums.
Marijuana Ban Finally Eliminated in College Sports: 3 Ways To Battle The Addiction
For a long time, the use of marijuana has been illegal, and athletes who get tested for it face harsh consequences. This made sense a few years ago because the drug itself was still illegal; if an athlete got caught using it, they had broken the law.
However, times have changed, and marijuana use has started to become legal in many states partly due to the rising number of individuals in possession of a Cannabis Medical Card. So, if this is the case, should collegiate athletes still be punished for using marijuana?
Recently, because of the legalization of marijuana, many sports leagues have been considering taking it off the “banned substances” list. The MLB became the first major league to remove cannabis from its list of “drugs of abuse,” and it would not be a surprise if the NBA and NFL decided to follow suit.
Big-name athletes have already spoken in favor of unbanning the drug. It is yet to be seen whether or not their support will be able to convince the NBA and NFL offices to allow their players to take marijuana.
“Hopefully we can get past the stigma around it (marijuana) and know that it does nothing but make people have a good time, make people hungry, bring people together — that plant brings us all together. It’s a plant that’s put here for a reason, and that’s to bring us together. Hopefully it (removing marijuana from the banned substance list) happens, especially in the NBA,” said Brooklyn Nets superstar, Kevin Durant.
Durant’s point is that marijuana is a casual and de-stressing drug that allows people to have a good time. According to Durant, marijuana is not damaging to anybody and certainly should not be part of the banned substances list.
Marijuana, like alcohol, is a substance that many college students enjoy using for recreational and social purposes these days. A recent survey done in 2018 by the University of Michigan, reported that 43% of college students in the United States have used marijuana in the past 12 months.
This figure was the highest number they have seen in the last three and a half decades. This shows that marijuana is only getting more and more popular amongst college students. In the long-run, smoking marijuana has shown to have significantly less damaging effects on the body than other legal substances, such as tobacco.
Is it really fair to prohibit athletes from experiencing this part of their college lives that so many of their peers seem to be enjoying? There are many reasons why people are fighting to legalize marijuana within the college sports industry.
However, drug and alcohol abuse is still a huge issue on college campuses in the US. Many students who constantly smoke weed, become addicted to it. With marijuana becoming legal, it is crucial that students do not abuse the substance.
If you are someone who is living with marijuana or another type of drug or alcohol addiction, there are many ways you can fight the addiction. These are steps you can take in order to combat a marijuana addiction.
1. Be aware of the problem and be able to admit to yourself that you need help.
This is not only the first step, but it is also the most important step. If you are not aware that you need help or are unwilling to receive help, then nobody will be able to help you no matter how hard they try or how experienced they are in dealing with drug and alcohol addiction.
Like with any problem in life, the first step is always identifying it as one. After all, how can you possibly fix a problem you aren’t even aware of yourself?
2. Reach out to people who are either in a similar situation and/or experts who can help.
Be able to find people you can talk to about your addiction. It gives you an opportunity to connect with someone and gives you the reassurance that you are not alone in battling the addiction.
It is often, easier to go through something with somebody else rather than go through it alone. A supportive person with whom you can talk and share your experiences can be extremely valuable; even in situations that don’t include drug/alcohol addiction.
Asking an expert for help is also crucial. Those experts have helped a lot of people go through the exact same situation you are in.
They know what works and what doesn’t based on the experiences of others. Listen to the advice that experts give you and ask questions whenever you feel the need to.
How exactly can you find people to connect with and help you out? There are many support groups dedicated to helping people with marijuana addiction. For example, “Marijuana Anonymous” is a group that has a 12-step plan based upon faith in God and guidance through Him.
Though this is a faith-based support group, they have made it very clear that you don’t have to believe in order for it to help you. Because of the current global pandemic, meetings are hosted online with members all over the world. There are many other support groups with a similar set-up.
3. Act upon the advice you agree with.
The third and final step is to execute the advice you have received from experts and other support. This may be, checking into rehab or clearing out any kinds of drugs/alcohol in your house.
Stay motivated to change for yourself. At the end of the day, people can try to help you as much as they like, but you are going to be the one who truly makes the change.
Compared to other illegal drugs, marijuana is not a dangerous drug. However, like any other drug or alcohol, abusing it could lead to something as serious as brain damage.
Although, for the most part, it is not a terrible thing to smoke marijuana from time to time, it is very important college students understand that addiction is dangerous, and should they reach that stage, their health depends on them immediately seeking help before it escalates to a life threat.
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