Ah, the marriage of classic progressive rock, psychedelic art and modern yoga. A match made in acid trip heaven! It’s not necessarily stoner yoga, but you’ll likely feel like you’re high at Pink Floyd laser yoga class, a sensory stimulating experience dreamed up by Portland, Oregon-based Chris Calarco, who’s also previously shared the transcendental gifts of Madonna, Michael Jackson, Phish and Bob Marley-themed yoga classes. The Dark Side of the Moon landed its spaceship in NYC last week. We missed the festivities, but thankfully, SPIN Magazine’s Julianne Escobedo Shepherd was there to get all the gory details.
Besides being a bit rusty and a yoga outsider, as it were, we found it particularly interesting that the writer set out on this mission having experienced the other side to this mat, with artist friends who openly protest the consumerism and profitability of Western yoga. Talk about stick out like a sore thumbasana in a sea of spirit fingers.
I don’t love yoga (I prefer my workouts with higher BPMs) but I love raves, lasers, and any kind of immersive “experience,” particularly when said experience is uniquely tethered to understanding music in a new way (see: raves). So I signed up blindly, despite not having done yoga for a good two years, and with a healthy skepticism towards how it would play out. My friends Chiraag and Himanshu recently staged a small art exhibition at the Whitney Museum that included a protest of the $6 billion yoga industry, which they feel is an appropriation and corporate commodification of Hindu spirituality. Himanshu also created an installation that included 65 yoga mats stacked into a corner with the cardboard box they came in, apparently to show the disconnected, mass-produced symbol of what yoga has become in the Western world. I regret not “borrowing” one of those mats after the art show was over, because it turns out I had to pay $2 to rent one for Laser Floyd.
The juxtaposition of “Om-ing,” a psychedelic laser light show and Pink Floyd’s “Money” can all be a bit too much to take in. On one hand, it sounds like a groovy outlet for music and yoga appreciation, on acid without the acid. On the other hand, it’s the very epitome of yoga on drugs. On the other hand, are we sure there’s something wrong with that? (Yeah, that’s three hands, we’re in Pink Floyd land, stay with us here.)
Chris Calarco explains the Pink Floyd-yoga connection, via WellandGoodNYC:
“Like the rise of yoga into western popular culture, Pink Floyd’s emergence marked a time of radical awakening in the hearts and minds of millions,” Calarco says. “Floyd’s instrumental experimentation and psychedelic soundscapes lay groundwork for our ever-expanding, ever-shifting perspectives. Their philosophical lyrics are contemplations of life’s heaviest questions, and these same explorations are the invitation of yoga. Who are you? Why are you here? Where are you going?”
Whoa. We read that with a stoner surfer voice, we don’t know about you.
The SPIN review continues, describing the overall “oneness” vibe, ruminations on Pink Floyd obsessions and a link to an article about people so obsessed with seeking godliness they die in the process (Death on the Path to Enlightenment: Inside the Rise of India Syndrome):
They talk about dichotomies like light and dark, “sanity and insanity,” and “The Oneness.” I am lying down on my back and start to giggle uncontrollably, which I know is an asshole move, particularly in a yoga class, but it’s hard for me to take anything seriously because it all feels so stonery. When the teachers ask everyone to sit up and drop an “Ohm,” a depiction of the Hindu god Hanuman flashes on the projector, the laser lights roiling over his face. I think about Himanshu’s yoga-mat installation, and another article he sent me about white men who travel to India seeking spiritual awareness and, instead of finding Eat Pray Love, they end up withInto the Wild. I vow never to travel into the Himalayas alone, and concentrate on my breathing. Chris keeps saying, “Let the music absorb into your pores,” and I’m convinced we’re about to get dosed from the overhead sprinklers, or the Ergot spores of our collective sweat. Would I be mad if Chris dosed us right now? Probably not. I swing my foot into a lunge and rest my elbows on the floor like he tells us, leaning into the organ parts on “Shine on You Crazy Diamond,” stretching hard for the memory of Syd Barrett.
In all honesty, we get the spiritual connection to music. We’ve experienced the ultimate playlist! But what we gather from brave infiltrant Julianne’s account is a picture painted of a culture that is desperate to feel something deeper, whereas “comfortably numb” may be the real projection. But then again, who can blame them for trying? Still, we’re left wondering if this is the answer to modern yoga or everything that’s wrong with it.
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Us and them
And after all, we’re only ordinary men
Me and you
And who knows which is which, and who is who?
I don’t agree. Read