music or no music in a yoga class?
Yoga is becoming increasingly popular in the western world today, we not only have a diversity of different styles of yoga to choose from and yoga fashion brands like Lululemon, but also many artists, such as MC Yogi, Krishna Das and Dj Drez, to mention a few.
As yoga is constantly evolving there is an ongoing debate of whether music should be played in class or not. The question is, does music enhance a yoga practice or does it distract it?
why play music in a yoga class:
- When we listen to music our brain releases dopamine, it is a feel good chemical essential for the functioning of the central nervous system
- Makes a class unique
- Many yoga practitioners believe that flowing to music in class helps them to advance their practice and focus more
- Music without lyrics can help you to maintain an insular state during your practice
- Lyrical music, depending on the lyrics can create a deep sense of community, reflection, awareness, and a flow for the class. It is not the same practicing to Michael Jackson as it is Snatnam Kaur.
why not to play music in a yoga class:
- A silent practice enables you tune into your breath, your breath entrains your mind. The breath is the focus of the practice and the tool that entertains your mind.
- A pace that follows your breath instead of a beat, is more likely to be suitable for your own body.
- Musical taste and volumes are different; not everyone in class will have the same preferences and music could actually prevent someone from practicing yoga.
- Playing loud music is no way pleasing nor effective in a yoga class, a loudness over 100dB is not comfortable, in fact it is stressful and rapidly activates your sympathetic nervous system taking away the purpose of yoga; to reach a meditative state.
- Music with lyrics such as Pop music is more distracting and stressful during class, especially when you are dealing with various components in a posture, the breath, the correct alignment and the discomfort in some more challenging postures.
- Often Students have to strain to hear the teacher over the music, this distracts the flow of the class and the changes the students experience.
- Specific music, especially known songs, often remind us of and bring you back to specific/special situations and therefore can take you out of the present practice.
- Sometimes people say, that a class without music is boring etc. This, just like meditation, is hard but so needed for most of us. It teaches you observation, acceptance etc of what is going on in our body and also our ‘mind-stuff’.
Some say that music can be seen as a way of hiding insecurities as a teacher, or is used to entertain the students or fill those gaps of silence or awkwardness; it is in those gaps of silence and awkwardness where the magic actually happens.
But, does playing music in yoga class prevent us from finding stillness or does it help us to deepen our practice, I feel that it is something individual and personal to each person. You can decide if listening to your yogi tunes during your practice really has the same effect on you as practicing in nature and listening to the sound of your breath.
There really is no right or wrong, music or no music, it all depends on different tastes and also different moments in your life. The most important thing is that people practice yoga whether it’s to Dj Drez or to the sound of their breath.
Lou is a blogger & yoga teacher. After completing evolations primary teacher training in July 2011, she is now traveling the world (current stop: evolation yoga – Sunshine Coast in Austrailia) to share the yoga love.