The recreational activities of touring DJs are quite widely reported and, let’s face it; they’re not usually associated with yoga and tend to be more chemical than transcendental. However more and more artists are turning to yoga in personal practice as an antidote to the relentless demands of the modern-day club scene.
DJ burnout is not the name of the latest superstar techno producer but a very real phenomenon that is becoming an issue for many performers in the industry as they try and balance the many temptations on offer with the fact that they are in a highly creative profession. One that produces its own pressure to be innovative, original and technically proficient so that the legions of electronic music devotes and the media are all satisfied.
At the same time, it’s a lifestyle that many thousands of people long for and to be seen to complain or whinge about this balancing act would probably see a DJ feature on the wickedly entertaining @DJsComplaining twitter thread. This dilemma is leaving many musicians in a very lonely place and many DJs are turning to yoga as a coping mechanism.
One of the most high profile of these is Surgeon, the nom-de-techno for Midland-born Anthony Child, who has been a driving force on the techno scene for decades.
Child initially turned to Ashtanga yoga to try and deal with some back pain and told online electronic music outlet, Resident Advisor, that, “on a psychological level, I think it’s made me much calmer. You can never remove stress and crazy situations from your life, but I think it's helped me to be able to deal with them better. And in terms of my gigs, it helps me to focus and concentrate for much longer periods of time than I ever could before. That’s really helped me enjoy and improve, I think, my performance.”
Child revealed how a daily practice was able to fix ongoing problems from insomnia and teeth grinding and, ultimately, an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.
“Doing what I do, there’s all kinds of drugs and alcohol around all the time,” revealed Child. “There's nothing wrong with that, it’s just when it goes out of balance and something has more negative than positive effects—then I see it as a problem. I’ve not drunk alcohol for seven years now, and I feel a lot better for it. I definitely attribute yoga as the thing that gave me the inner strength to be able to deal with that.”
Another DJ with a similar experience is Luca Mortellaro, better known as Lucy, who can be found in Europe’s premier clubs as well as being in demand in the US, Australia and Japan. By his own admission, he has found his success difficult and he turned to Hatha yoga to help him deal with panic attacks and crippling bouts of anxiety.
When he spoke to Resident Advisor he told them that yoga was a much needed constant for him, “wherever I was, in Tokyo, New York, San Francisco, Rome, Berlin, something was always the same. And at some point it started to become a very synergic part of my music career. In the weekend I was putting all my energies into one direction, during the week I was putting them into another, through the yoga practice. I started feeling how that was helping a lot in fighting a certain kind of alienation.”
Ultimately, what yoga has given to Surgeon and Lucy isn’t confined to the club scene and there is a lesson here for anyone who has found that their love of something is becoming increasingly shrouded by exhaustion, cynicism and inefficiency – the hallmarks of burnout. It’s nothing to do with the type of yoga they practice either; instead it’s about the daily frequency with which they practice it.
This is backed up by an Indian study, which has shown that making yoga a part of the daily lifestyle reduced burnout and stress in corporate executives, with one group practicing for 75 minutes a day compared to another group, who exercised for exactly the same amount of time. At the end of the 24-day study, measurable stress factors had dropped in the yoga group but had increased in the other group.
Whether it knows it or not, the techno scene is better for yoga as it has increased the output of two of its stars and protected them from the toxic issue of burnout. Who knows what a daily practice could do for you?
This article was written for Warrior Addict by the awesome Jon Axworthy. We would like to give credit to BBC, Resident Advisor and The Quietus for the images used in this article.