A Yoga Playlist for the Grief of This Year

Hey there, is that you, in a ball on the floor? How do we learn to move again? Where is Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds? These are questions we are all trying to answer. When that new Neflix show The OA doesn’t have me wailing like a banshee on my knees, it has me wondering whether or not the recently departed unicorn-level celebrities are actually a new cast of angels banding together in a dimension just beyond our grasp to fight for the good of mankind.

While the angels are at it, we have work of our own to do. If we stay in a ball on the floor we will forget that we are actually a band of busters being led by Kate McKinnon herself to vacuum up the swirling vat of green evil over there. Remember when the lady Ghostbusters came out of the swirling vat of ghost nastiness with white hair? That’s us. We are ourselves and our elders, people. We have to get strong now.

This may mean many things for many people. For me, it means remembering to do things like yoga. Here is a playlist that is also my wish for us to keep moving our way back to that inner power. Cry it out. Sweat it out. Because you know what? World peace motherfuckers.

As a yoga teacher I have to say this: please only do these poses if you are familiar with them. I’m not here to hurt anybody.


Leonard Cohen “That’s No Way to Say Goodbye

  • Savasana; supine spinal twists
  • Sun Salutation A, slowly

Leonard Cohen “So Long Marianne

  • Sun Salutation 2x
  • From final downward facing dog move into a lunge and twist on each side
  • In the twisting lunge, think about the line of pain this stretch brings out of your hip and low spine. Think about the fact that this is a very specific place in your body. Donald Trump might never stretch this part of his body. So how would he get the strength that this particular part of his musculature has to offer? How would he flush the toxins we hoard in this space? What of his badness lives there? YOU are stretching this part of your body, YOU are flushing the toxins from this space, so doesn’t this make you stronger than him? Notice your power.

Leonard Cohen “Sisters of Mercy

  • Sun Salutation B 3x

Leonard Cohen “Hallelujah.

  • Triangle Pose
  • Holding yourself midair without leaning too much on your bottom hand, have a holy moment doing triangle pose while Leonard Cohen speaks of the baffled king. Wonder if we not only need to save ourselves but to save the baffled king. Can we get him to say Hallelujah? The dog is barking and it sort of breaks up the holy moment. There was a woman at your church when you were a child who sang so beautifully you couldn’t tell whether or not you had a crush on her. The way people said her name was romantic. She reminded you of Courtney Cox as Michael J. Fox’s girlfriend in Family Ties.

Margaret Glaspy, “Love Like This”

  • Utkatasana
  • Twisting utkatasana both sides
  • Twisting trikonasana

Leonard Cohen, “The Partisan

  • Vajrasana
  • As Leonard Cohen sings, “Then the soldiers came. She died without a whisper,” you might put your hands behind your toes or even fall backward into reclining warrior. They were pulling babies out of the rubble of buildings in the video of Aleppo. The leg of one baby was purple. Her father was just carrying her like the fact of her death hadn’t hit him yet.
  • As Leonard Cohen is singing, “There were three of us this morning. I’m the only one this evening,” remember the video of a black American journalist in Aleppo who said, “I need for everybody to retweet this. Retweet it. Retweet it.” Explosions in front of and behind him. As Cohen is singing about the Spanish Civil War, remember that Federico Garcia Lorca was murdered by a fascist militia. He wrote, “in the green morning, I wanted to be a heart. A heart.”

Ibeyi, “River

  • Doing a crescent lunge with your knee on the ground realize that the line in your body being stretched from your hip point down to your knee to your toe is a path like a river is a path. Think about how we are not separate from what is happening to the planet. To our water. The way the earth is sick and the way we are sick is part of this political moment. How do we heal as one body?

Ibeyi, “Mama Says

  • Seated twists. Wonder whether or not the sisters in Ibeyi are speaking of their actual mother. Their father was in Buena Vista Social Club. These twins are singing in Yoruba. Ibeyi means twins. They manifest in voice and image like an apparition.

The Very Best, “Guju

  • Navasana 3x
  • Breath of fire in navasana. Remember the kundalini class you took in LA once when something horrible had happened but the class made you feel strong enough to face it. You can’t remember what horrible thing it had been.
  • Twenty-minute meditation. Do breath of fire a couple of times in the middle.
  • Feel the path between your nose and the top of your head clear.

Aisha writes essays about art, race and film from Tucson, Arizona. Her work has appeared or can soon be found in Ecotone, The Offing, Sierra Nevada Review, Ninth Letter, The Southern Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Essay Daily and Guernica, where she serves as a contributing editor. Her book, The Fluency of Light: Coming of Age in a Theater of Black and White, was published by University of Iowa Press in 2013.

Aisha has written 16 articles for us.

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