Yoga with music? Why not? Some teachers and practitioners like them, while others would rather focus on the silence of the room. Yoga requires a lot of concentration focused on the poses and the breathing techniques. And while you place your mind into both the asanas and pranayama, you are also engaging your mind with your body. The beauty of yoga is that it does not only exercise your physical body, it is also a great workout for your emotions and thoughts.
However, this does not entirely mean that music is a no-no in the yoga studio. In fact, a lot of yoga teachers play soft, mellow music during practice. The melodious rhythm of the music can give an additional positive spin with its upbeat nature. At the same time, these types of music do not take your mind away from the practice. Just like in studying, a lot of practitioners consider music as a way to aid in their concentration rather than as a means of distraction. Soft music also helps calm the mind, which makes it a great tool to reinforce the benefits of yoga.
Yoga-based companies and retailers usually sell music records which are created in enhancing the experience of practicing yoga. Majority of these sounds range from chants, nature sounds and instrumental beats. Chants with spiritual Indian words are usually used by those who want to bring themselves and their students to the main origins of yoga. As the practice started in India, the experience transcends beyond the physical aspects and touches the historical and the spiritual aspects of yoga.
Nature sounds can be very soothing. It makes one imagine practicing in the middle of a lush rain forest or in front of a serene blue sea. The visual imagery that music makes particularly when playing nature sounds can be very calming for practitioners. It helps them relax and embrace their natural being.
Instrumental, mellow sounds are also a favorite among some teachers. It has a calming and upbeat effect, without the distraction of the lyrics. Some even choose modern Western music such as pop, jazz or hip-hop, played in instruments, to stimulate positive emotions. When listening to upbeat music, a person’s brain releases a chemical which pushes him or her to strive better while exercising. In yoga, this can be translated as a way to encourage students to perform poses by stimulating their aural sense.
For classes with slow and gentle pace, soothing, mellow sounds are the most preferred. It helps create a peaceful environment. Rather than taking the focus from breathing and from the teacher’s instructions, it creates a soft ambient noise, so students can still concentrate on their meditation and poses. Energetic beats will sit well in vigorous practices such as in power yoga and Ashtanga Vinyasa classes.
It is best to avoid aggressive fast-tempo types of music for yoga classes. Music can play a huge influence on your emotions. In yoga, more than in any forms of physical exercises, you are most in touch with yourself. Thus, you would want to listen to something that calms you, not one that agitates you.
Another thing to consider is the loudness of the music. As mentioned earlier, yoga music, no matter how good it is, should only be ambient and in the background. It should not be in the volume which can already interfere with your thought and meditation process.
Making your own yoga playlist is unlike the usual playlist-creation process. You will not only be setting the environment of your yoga practice, you can also make the playlist your cue when it comes to poses. A well-thought playlist can help set the pace of your yoga practice.
You can start off by lining up songs that you know would fit your yoga class. If a song that you have recently heard seems calming, you can also listen to snippets of it. You can then start building up your very own playlist from your usual favorites with parts from other songs or music that you think would fit. You can also research for other yoga playlists to serve as an inspiration, if you don’t know where or how to start. Playing from a playlist is much more preferred than streaming from internet radio. It is better to be prepared than be distracted by music that are too random and don’t seem to work for your yoga practice.
Another thing to watch out for would be transitions. Your music should be seamless, much like how you would inhale and exhale within the same tempo. Choose music that start off and end gently, even for those with upbeat sounds. Songs that end abruptly or those which have a very loud start will only distract you, instead of stimulate you. If you are creating your playlist through software such as iTunes, you can edit the transitions so the songs fade to each other.
Even if you have already played your song list several times, it does not mean that it will perfectly fit right in your pacing or in the poses that you are doing. So try practicing your playlist along with your yoga poses. If the music feels awkward or off, have enough flexibility to skip it or change it. This kind of preparation is particularly important if you will be playing the music for your friends or your students.
The right kind of music can inspire you and anyone else who listens to your music during yoga. If you have been practicing it alone or if you are teaching a class, you can even use the music as a way to create a new direction for the practice. It does not matter if you start off with the music or with the sequence. For most, the sequence and pacing of the practice can influence the types of music that are on the playlist. For others, they rely on the kind of emotion the music evokes and then create the sequence based on that. Regardless of your technique, playing music for your yoga can create a different kind of experience.