A few days ago, I visited a Bad Religion concert, snapped a picture and posted it on Instagram and Facebook.
Not long after posting the picture, I received several personal messages and emails, asking me why a yoga teacher would want to visit a punk rock concert. I also received a few questions from people I know and met at the concert – asking me the same question, but the other way around: how could someone who listens to and enjoys punk rock music be totally in love with yoga as well.
The thing is: while punk and yoga indeed seem to be contradictory of one another, they are actually interconnected. They both encourage us to question the world, bring clarity on how we view ourselves and the world we live in and enlighten us on so many aspects of life.
As Bad Religion singer Greg Graffin once stated: “Punk is the personal expression of uniqueness that comes from the experiences of growing up in touch with our human ability to reason and ask questions; a movement that serves to refute social attitudes that have been perpetuated through willful ignorance of human nature; a process of questioning and commitment to understanding that results in self-progress, and through repetition, flowers into social evolution; a belief that this world is what we make of it, truth comes from our understanding of the way things are, not from the blind adherence to prescriptions about the way things should be; the constant struggle against fear of social repercussions.”
To me, that sounds an awful lot like yoga’s core philosophy.
Even the ‘yoga-scene’ and the ‘punk-scene’ are similar: they’re both communities of like-minded individuals coming together to be a part of something that makes them feel good and has a positive impact on the world as well.
Like yoga, punk is a way to acknowledge whatever is present without pushing uncomfortable feelings away and just like yoga, it is a way to alleviate stress and tension as is shown in a recent study by the University of Queensland, in Brisbane, Australia.
This study shows that the effects of extreme music, which is normally associated with anger and aggression, actually make listeners ‘inspired and calm’: “We found the music regulated sadness and enhanced positive emotions. When experiencing anger, extreme music fans liked to listen to music that could match their anger. The music helped them explore the full gamut of emotion they felt, but also left them feeling more active and inspired. Results showed levels of hostility, irritability and stress decreased after music was introduced, and the most significant change reported was the level of inspiration they felt.”
Aside from this all: yoga is an inclusive practice (and punk is an inclusive way of life). By saying punk has no place in yoga because it is too loud or aggressive – or vice versa: saying yoga has no place in punk because it is too soft and spiritual, you’re excluding certain parts of the path and of yourself as well. This can easily lead to pushing away anger because of what you think yoga should look like and to fear opening up because that might make you look like a hippy.
I feel there’s no benefit in pushing any part of our life away – your shadows will show up anyway. Go there. It isn’t denying certain parts of us and life that heals us, but the passing through experiences. Whether that be through yoga or punk. Or both.