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Where Music’s Meaning Meets the Power of Yoga

Leading up to this month’s Dark Side of the Moon yoga event on Oct 24, we asked Carrah Quigley, “what drives your motivation to sync rock music with movement in yoga?”

The Dark Side of the Moon
Where Music’s Meaning Meets the Power of Yoga

“I’ll never forget the first time I laid eyes on my first rock yoga teacher, I judged him harshly. I thought, “What a dude.” He was all bleach blonde hair, tattoos and superficial LA hugs. But something about the title of his workshop, “Yoga Rocks,” seemed interesting. I resolved to go check it out. He introduced himself by asking, “What is freedom?” We all sat in silence. “What is true freedom?” He asked again. We stared at him, I was personally afraid to raise my hand and risk being wrong… more silence. He grinned a bit and opened his hands as if to give up waiting for a response. Finally, he uttered, “Independence.”

“Freedom,” he continued, “is a state of independence from all desires. That’s the goal.” I had remembered the teachings of the Yogis, self reliance and removal of attachments. Immediately, it was clear to me, this guy was no regular dude. He was deep. He was deep and cool. He was deep and cool and stylish. He wore jeans, carried his guitar around and quoted directly from the Bhagavad Gita (a Hindu scripture) as he walked around the room setting up our breath for our practice to begin.

Then he put on Prince’s, “Take Me With You.”

All at once, a transcendent experience descended into every pore of my body. “Are you kidding me?” I thought. This guy is keeping it to the tradition and then throwing in some 1984 pinnacle of music!? What was this? I can only describe the next 70 minutes as an experience of unity. The music, from my beloved artists and rock and roll giants from classic rock all the way up to 90’s grunge, were taking on a whole new meaning of empowerment and spiritual exercise. Was it possible to solve your life problems in Warrior 2 to Sunday Bloody Sunday? Every cell of my body said, “YES!”

I went to his teacher training. It was a vigorous and life-changing experience that healed the deepest places of my life, while rocking out the entire time. Finally, I had met someone who understood that music was not a distraction or a ‘cleaving of the true’ philosophy from its roots, but a tool for going deeper, for solving the greatest cracks of my insecurities, for unifying my cultural experience of transcendental highs, with poses to create a strong body. This was a form of union.

I am a person who loves music. I don’t just like the hits, or whatever is out now, I like all forms of music. Sound has the ability to change the body on a cellular level, and music gives me a heightened perception of the yoga experience. It helps bring me into my zone. I find it heartwarming to watch people mouth choruses in a triangle pose or sink deeply into the journey of notes that carry them into deeper concentration.

Yoga began with the sacred sound of Om, the sound of creation for every living thing, according to the yoga philosophy. It is the sound of the Earth. Yogic tradition hinges on sound vibrations moving through the body to create a feeling of unity with all creation. I am fully aware the original teachers and founders of Yoga were not thinking about AC/DC when they advocated the use of sound vibration in their teachings, but all things evolve. I don’t believe that listening to rock and roll during yoga is going to hasten or make easier any form of self-actualization. However, I do believe our collective cultural memory in this country and the sounds of classic rock or songs from a certain era can bring about a deeper questioning, or deeper contemplation on what is needed to heal and become whole. The music serves as an acknowledgment of our journey, in our culture and time, into meaningful sound and how it moves through the body. It is for these reasons that I do not believe using rock music in any way offends the teachings of yoga, nor does it contribute to the often seen commodification of yoga. We are here to journey, a full rock soundtrack enhances that in every way. For me, it is a perfect union of Eastern philosophy and Western creativity.

It has been a dream of mine for almost 5 years to bring the experience of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon to a yoga practice. Dark Side of the Moon was a ground breaking album, cracking into the rock and roll psyche almost as deeply as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band from the Beatles. The album forever changed how music sounded and how truly deep a sound journey could go. It makes sense that this journey could be lived by the body in a meaningful way.

In addition to combining rock music and yoga, I wanted to capture Ayurvedic tradition (Indian Medicine) in harnessing the energy of the full moon, when our gifts, talents and strengths are at their peak. October 24’s full moon will provide a way to give reverence for one of the greatest albums every recorded through breath and movement while harnessing and expressing our energies in a responsible way. In this night of power and sacred sound, we will find our strength, relive the global phenomenon that is Dark Side of the Moon and embody our greatest potential to grow and unify with music.”


Carrah Quigley 

Woodside Yoga  & Meditation Teacher, National Speaker

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