Last week I taught a Michael Jackson yoga class. I was in a need of a sequence that made serious and seasoned yogis remember the power of a playful practice. So I worked on my playlist and soon realized MJ probably took his infamous white glove off to crawl on his yoga mat from time to time.
Before class I looked around the room and noticed the wide range of students eagerly waiting to start. I couldn’t help but think I was going to scare some yogis when I blasted our warm-up song…”Wanna be Startin Something.” I turned towards the 60+ woman in the corner and reluctantly said “Not sure if you heard, but today is a Michael Jackson tribute class.” Expecting her to roll up her extra heavy and ridiculously expensive black “pro” Manduka mat I noticed her smile lines as she said “oh yeah, I’m the one who requested this playlist.” I guess MJ really did appeal to everyone and I love that.
The warm-up was slow and steady, cat/cow to down dog to plank followed by causal shimmying on the mat. Of course the practice got harder and while sitting low in Utkatsana we were reminded to stay present and “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough”. The mirror in the front of the class brought us back into our body reflecting the “Man in the Mirror”. We analyzed our alignment and judged ourselves for not being as low as our neighbor but soon realized the playful practitioner looking back at us was reminding us that yoga is much more than the physical. And a thought…Bikram must love this song. Sweating our way to the climax we finally hit “Thriller” when we carried our mats to the wall for some inversions. Of course not everyone is comfortable with flipping their world upside down but in comparison to an approaching werewolf dance troop…headstand didn’t seem so bad.
Finally, exhausted and one too many moon walks across the studio we laid on our mats for final Svasana. “The Way You Make Me Feel” concluded our practice. Not only did yoga make us physically stronger but it made us feel good from the inside. I could feel the blood pumping through my veins, thankful that my body could make it to the mat and practice that day, lucky to be breathing and surrounded by such adventurous and surprisingly good dancers/yogis.
We opened our eyes after our closing meditation and I realized I was asking my students to make a change and let go of the serious yoga facade they had picked up along the way and play with me. I was guilty of it too, they rose to the occasion and reminded me that yoga isn’t always black and white, there’s a huge gray area. And maybe that’s all Michael’s white glove was…a reminder to play. A reminder to not to take yourself too seriously, break the rules, let go of judgment, and just dance. So if you look over and happen to see me on my mat wearing a bedazzled white glove, don’t judge…just remember to play.