June 12, 2010

The Mosh Pit of Yoga. ~ Robert Baker

On getting healthy, and my path to 50.

I am getting old in body.  This June I climbed the chronological peak of 50, and the view is much different than I imagined back when I was 20.

Serial adventurer. That is my self-proclaimed title on my social business card. Been there, done that seems trite, but I realize any half-centurion looks through the same glasses.

How did I get here?

The 1990’s brought on a mainstream wave of music affectionately called grunge.  At the time, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and Stone Temple Pilots were record-label-approved mainstream cash cows promoting anarchy, rebellion, vibrant tattoos and the newly popular phenomenon of moshing.

One of my residences during that period was in the Sugarhouse district of Salt Lake City, Utah.  As I ventured out into the local music scene, my mosh pit virginity was broken at a funky club called DV8.  I saw a brilliant punk band called DRILL and jumped in my first pit.

The loud music, the sweaty, wife-beater t-shirt wearing skinny chick belting out brain-shattering music was awesome—but it was the ‘fellowship’ that turned me on loud and strong.

Immediately I tried to dissect the etiquette of moshing. Intense body contact is good.  Sweating is good.  Moving the head and neck around was good.  Spinal twists and leg extensions were good.  Stage-diving was good.  I loved it.  Everyone in the pit was generating a certain fervor all the whilst thriving on the music, the location, the smells and the potency of the group dynamic.

A few years later, I attended a concert by Rage Against the Machine.  This mosh pit was five times the intensity of any mosh pit I had been in before.  It was so densely populated many times I thought I would suffocate.   The physical energy stimulated you to dance harder, breathe better, visually focus and be absolutely in the moment.

Wikipedia generally assesses ‘moshing’ as aggressive, a violent sort of dancing.  Yes, I left the Rage concert with a big puffy black eye…but did that diminish my overall experience?


Two plus years ago, on a fluke, I started attending a beginner yoga class at the local gym with a ‘bro’.  We are thinking, “check out all the hot chicks… let’s do this!”

At that time, after eight years of long, dark and cold winters in Alaska, I had ballooned to 280 pounds.  As I attended my first yoga class I was probably 265 pounds, and, to say the least, not very flexible.

The beginning instruction was excellent and encouraging. The yogis made me feel exceptional, because they encounter few grain-fed Bramha bulls like myself making the effort required to move this mass of flesh to a downward dog position.  I could not believe how my body would be smoked for the entire day after class.

Fast forward a year or so, and I started attending a more advanced beginners class.  The yogini teacher was putting out amazing energy, and it seemed like after every class my inner spirit and physical body were more in union.

I kept going back.

With the most intense school-boy crush I have ever had, I finally asked Ms. Yogini if she wanted to do some adventuring or even coffee.  Sure, she said.  A few weeks later it turned out she invited me to my first Bikram class…and this was also my first professional studio yoga class.

I dug it.  No ambient noise. An obvious commitment to capitalize on an imminent journey of physical, mental and spiritual enlightenment for the next 90 minutes.

OMG.  As many first-timers to hot yoga might admit, this was the most intense experience I had in many years.  How could I be so profusely sweating in the first three minutes?   How could I be gasping for air in the next 10 minutes?  How could I be doing a dancer’s pose in unison with 40 other yogis?

It took me a few days to process the experience.  I told my friend, “Oh, maybe I will do hot yoga like dessert…just once in a while.”

After a few days, circumstances allowed me to hang out with Ms. Yogini and we did a Moksha class.  At this point the crush is huge, I’m all in. Needless to say, after my third class, I was hooked.

I now average about 20 classes a month in conjunction with triathlon training.

A half-year down the hot-yoga-road has allowed me to see the obvious parallels to music moshing and the potential intensity of the full yoga experience.

It seems this next generation of yoga festivals is capturing the very essence of this relationship.  Let’s sweat together. Let’s groove together. Let’s touch one other. Let’s uplift each other. Let’s get spiritually high together.

One of my recent t-shirt designs I promote is – YOGA LIKE A ROCK STAR. That is my intention with my new found journey in yoga.

I hope to see you in the mosh pit of yoga soon.  Peace out.

Robert Baker is a Las Vegas-based Getty Images stock photographer-graphic designer-multimedia wonk, world traveler, triathlete and is earth-active.  Most importantly he does not take himself too seriously and seeks the spiritual truth and humility in humor.  He is also single and now weighs a smidge over 200lbs for all the single ladies in the house. 🙂

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