“A Surrey with a Fringe On Top,” that wonderful and dreamy song that Gordon MacRae sings to Shirley Jones in Oklahoma, is perfectly suited for sun salutations, at least in my world and, on occasion, in the yoga classes I teach.
Having grown up in a 1960s household in which my mother played show tunes while spraying Lemon Pledge on every wooden surface, I developed an early attachment to sweeping overtures and sentimental ballads. Show tunes were generally the soundtrack to my constant daydreaming. I would walk down the hall, imagining myself walking up to receive my first Oscar for Best Actress with “Hello Dolly” playing in my mind or in the house. I would jump up and down on my bed in time with Westside Story’s “Maria,” while imagining the first and last time I would fall in love with someone so passionate about me he couldn’t help but belt out my name high and low.
Show tunes have occupied a place in my inner life since I was born, bringing me immense cheer. Back when I occasionally got drunk, I could count on someone telling me the next day how I insisted on singing “I’m Just a Girl Who Can’t Say No” while standing on the couch. As years went on, I accumulated a lot of records, cassette tapes, CDs and iTune downloads to keep the melodies of “The Sound of Music” and “South Pacific” close at hand. So it was no wonder that when I began putting together mix tapes for my yoga classes, I started slipping in “Getting To Know You” in between some Deva Premal and Krishna Das. While occasionally people raise their eyebrows a little, no one has (yet) complained about doing a sitting twist while listening to the overture from Carousel.
So the soundtrack to my practice, alone and with others, will continue to feature the musical equivalent of bling: a little dazzle from stage and screen while I breath and move into as much presence as I can foster. Sometimes there might be an orchestra, sometimes a single voice, but unlike the way show tunes would take me away from reality when I was a kid, the show tunes infusing yoga bring me back to myself now. The majesty and magic turn out to live right where yoga takes me.