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Songstrcss Sarah McLachJan on surfing, singing, yoga, and letting herself ride the emotional roller coaster of life.

McLachlan, at home

WE ARRIVED AT THREE-TIME GRAMMY WINNER SARAII MCLACHLAN'S HOUSE in Vancouver, Canada, one May morning before she'd returned from taking her eight-year-old daughter, India, to school. A sweet chocolate Lab and a gregarious cat met us at the door and looked on, nonplussed, as we got busy moving furniture—includi ng a beauti ful statue of Ganesh — to turn the singer-songwriter's spectacular entry hall, with its burnt cayenne walls and Persian carpet, into a temporary photo studio made of white paper walls and floors. (Our cover image is a composite of at least 14 different photos by the Norwegian photographer Erik Almas. For more on how and why we made this image, watch the video at yogajournal.com/almas and see "Creating the Cover,"onpage 156.)

McLachlan, whose hits like "Angel" and "Sweet Surrender" provided a soundtrack to the late '90s, has sold some 40 million albums worldwide. She is a veritable rock star; her performance at the opening ceremonies of this year's Winter Olympics in Vancouver was televised to millions. Rut when she arrived home the morning of our visit, holding her nearly three-year-old daughter, Taja, she had none of the airs of fame. With sparkling eyes and an enthusiastic laugh, she made us feel at home, and admitted to beinga little nervous—she's been practicing yoga for 13 years but wasn't sure what to expect for our cover shoot. (She did great; her practice is beautiful!)

She half apologized for the living room being a jumble of couch cushions (the girls had been playing), offered cappuccinos all around, then invited us into her bedroom, where a rack of by Kaitlin Quistgaard I

photography by Erik Almas

SqUt&PDF: WorldMags & Journal-Plaza

herself on my back. [Laughs.] I'm ready for her. It's kind oflike The Pink Panther's Cato—you know, jumping out of the bushes. And so my abs are always ready for her.

Seeing your poses, I'm guessing you practice a lot. You're strong and flexible.

I used to do Ashtanga for years, and the muscle memory of that is what allows me to go into those poses pretty easily. Janet teaches a lot more long-held poses and just really focusing on the core—you know, after having two kids and losing that way-down, deep-inside muscle.

Do you find there is a relationship between yoga and singing?

There is an amazing parallel. It's very, very similar when I sing—that's the other place where I feel utterly and completely in the moment—inside myself, but outside as well.

I think we all crave this sense of being connected to other human beings, to the earth, to energy, to God—whatever it is you call it—that thing that we all are intrinsically part of that we can't see or touch, but that we can feel. And both yoga and singing sort of bring me to that place.

Five minutes before I go onstage, I do mypranayama. I can be kindofwingy, and if I just spend five minutes really focusing on my breath, it brings me right back down. It's an amazing tool. I'm in a lot of high-pressure situations, especially before TV appearances, where, "OK, you got three minutes. Go."

It's just [big gasping sucking in of air] "OK, just breathe."

Speaking of performing, let's talk about your new album. Laws of Illusion. What's the creative impulse behind it?

It's been a tumultuous couple of years. A real roller coaster. It's presented a lot of really great fodder for emotional release. For me, the greatest emotional release comes from singing and writing.

Also, it was there. It was ready to come out—and I want it to be out there, and I want to give it to the world, and I want to perform. It's the best drug in the world, singing in front of people and feeling that energy flowing back and forth and them going, "Ah, yes!" That's one of the clothes had been brought in for the cover shoot. She chatted and laughed through the wardrobe fitting, and then graciously combed through her own closet to round out the stylist's wardrobe picks, finding just the white scarf we were looking for— in this case, one blessed by the Dalai Lama. (In the process, I discovered that her dressing room is home to a photo of herself with both the Rolling Stones and Bill Clinton!)

Then, while a makeup artist shadowed her eyes, we talked about some of the tougher stuff we have in common, like single parenting—she separated from her drummer husband, Ashwin Sood, in 2008. She hinted that Laws of Illusion, the first album of new material that she has created in seven years and which she was still working on when we met, revolves around relationships. (Later, I learned she had written the painfully sweet "Forgiveness" about the loss of a relationship and "Rivers of Love" as a love song to herself.) She also talked about the power of friendship and her women friends—she was preparing to hit the road for Lilith lair, the all-female music tour, which she co produces as well as performs in. (This year's tour features McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, Emmylou Harris, Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Donna De Lory, Norah Jones, and others, and is scheduled to run through mid-August.)

Ail day, McLachlan, 42, radiated strength, confidence, and good cheer. With her iPod playing Brian Eno,

The Killers, and Lisa Gerrard, she glided effortlessly into Natarajasana (Lord of the Dance Pose), Utthita Hasta Padangus-thasana (Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose), and more, needing barely a cue from her yoga teacher, Janet Wallden, to get the alignment just right. She held poses seemingly forever for the camera, until, with an operatic "Aaaaaahhhhh.'" she would fall out of the pose and laugh.

As the day wound to an end, we were standing in McLachlan's kitchen, where four antique Hindu temple bells hang over the sink, when she offered to play us something from her new album. "This is 'Heartbreak,"' she said, "my happy denial song." Her smile was big and genuine. Finding happiness when your heart is broken can take some denial, but as far as I could tell that day, McLachlan was enjoying the real thing.

Tou've been practicing yoga for ij years...

I love the discipline. I love the focus. I tend to be a little airy-fairy, and I just love that hour and a half where I can be completely and utterly in the moment. It grounds me. It just solidifies everything for me and allows me to be completely in the moment for myself, with myself. I need that. [Laughs.]

Do you ever practice on your own?

You know, part of being undisciplined is, I need someone to guide me, and I love being guided. I really feed off that energy. [Instructor Janet Wallden comes to McLachlan's house for twice-weekly private sessions.] Half the time my baby's doing yoga with me, and if I'm stretching, she throws

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