Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Joys of Singing

It's been a bit of a rough week.  It's been a rough start to 2014 overall, I'd have to say - my morale is up and down with the injury (although I am miles and miles better, I'm still not yet back to my old active self), this winter seems absolutely endless, I've been missing my husband like crazy, and I have friends who've been dealing with far bigger problems than me which makes me feel incredibly sad and low for them.  There's just been a lot of overall stress and more down moments and days than I normally have.

I've been looking toward more gentle yoga and meditation to help me deal with that and with the frustration of having temporarily lost running, cycling, and sweaty yoga as a stress reliever.  Sometimes, though, it winds up just marinating in whatever's bumming me out instead of shaking myself out of the stress or the blahs.

I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it, but it was a Buzzfeed "article" that really crystalized what I needed to do as a pure mood booster, and thus what to write about this week!  The seeds had started to be planted a bit a couple of weeks ago when my good friend and fellow kid's yoga teacher and I saw Frozen together - Skyler was leading a Frozen themed birthday party for Karma Kids Yoga, so, you know, it was work.  (It's sentences like that that make me internally slap myself upside the head for ever feeling stressed about work.)  We were finally able to see for ourselves why every single kid who has walked through the door lately is obsessed with and/or singing Let it Go - we laughed, we cried, we loved it, and we had so much fun that we're planning a sleepover almost entirely devoted to singing.

Thinking about that, and then reading this Buzzfeed article (which at least has links to more legit articles within it), I resolved to spend my entire morning yesterday while getting ready for work singing to my Happy Love Songs playlist.  Sure enough, after waking up in a questionable mood due to some bizarre dreams, I was incredibly cheered walking out the door.

When we explain chanting and "Om" to kids, we often compare it to singing.  It's an accurate comparison, and chanting and singing share a lot of the same benefits.  Chanting 3 Om's, singing to a Disney (or whatever your poison) song - you're engaging the same muscles, creating the same vibrations, and literally changing the energy in your body.

Sometimes just sitting or gentle child's pose isn't enough.  I feel it even with teaching - if I'm in a crummy mood and don't feel like teaching a class, 9 times out of 10 I feel so much better after having done it.  I'm smiling even when I don't feel like it (not that that's something you should do all the time), I'm moving my body, I'm using my voice (and singing, if it's a kid's class).

I also realized, since I haven't driven in about 3 1/2 years, I don't sing nearly as much for myself as I used to.  Some people sing in the shower, but I always would sing in the car.  Especially when I'd regularly make trips between Newport News and Richmond, road trips to visit my sister or my mom, or when I was in company management where driving was a huge part of the job, I'd exhaust myself belting out (trying to anyway) The Last Five Years, Wicked, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell - and when my voice was exhausted, my love Bob Dylan was always there for me, and I could always sound better than him!

So if you're still struggling with the winter blues, two things.  First, head outside because it's all the way up to the 40's today (!!!!!!), and then - sing a little something.  Even if you feel silly.  Just do it.  See what happens!

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