Inner Journey: Music for Yoga Classes

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On an early Monday morning, I hopped into my car to go take my regular 6a.m. hot yoga class. Suddenly, I came to a realization and halted for a quick second. There was a small part of me that didn’t want to attend; however I hit the road anyway. Halfway there, I remembered the reason why I did not want to attend. My usual teacher has been sick and last Monday there was a substitute teacher that played very loud top 40, pop songs. The class was unbearable. After that experience, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to ever attend this class again.

I started living a healthier lifestyle 5 years ago. After introducing yoga and meditation into my life, I’ve developed a pretty good idea on what my mind and body needs. I’ve trained as a yoga DJ for the last 3 years; touring and playing for yoga festivals, classes, and various workshops. Also, I just finished my level one Kundalini Yoga teacher’s training. So in any case, I’m certain that top 40, pop, heavy metal rock, or aggressive rap songs played loudly in a class, is not beneficial for my yoga practice.

Yoga in essence is an inward journey. We practice yoga to regain our focus, center ourselves, and most importantly calm our mind. This can be difficult to achieve in a yoga class that plays loud, aggressive, fast pace music.

Certain music can cause tension and anxiety.

Loud, aggressive music played in a yoga class can cause tension and severe anxiety. It can create a rapid adrenaline rush to your nervous system. This can be very unsettling making it very difficult to concentrate during class. Music that is over 100 decibels can be very uncomfortable and can also cause hearing impairments. This can be helpful during cross fit training or in the gym, but in a yoga class, it is very disruptive.

music 101 - 3Songs with lyrics can cause distraction in a yoga class.
Music is an amazing tool. Many enjoy listening to music and it is very therapeutic for the mind. Music can trigger past memories, it can bring up stored emotions and it also affects our subconscious tremendously. Listening to songs with lyrics can alter our moods without us even knowing it!

Most pop songs and top 40 music are mostly upbeat, and the lyrics tend to be louder than the rest of the song. The teacher’s instructions and lyrics can clash, making it very difficult for students to hear or follow instructions. It can be very hard to concentrate on the sequences, postures, and most importantly breathing. Our main goal in yoga is to achieve a peaceful, meditative, and balanced state so playing loud, abrupt songs with lyrics will less likely be a catalyst to reach these goals.

Loud music makes it difficult to hear the teacher.
Not only is yoga a very hands-on physical activity, it is also very instructive. Therefore, it is important that the teacher projects their voice with clarity and enunciate their words so students can hear them. Competing background noises such as loud music, can make it difficult for students to hear the teacher. This also makes it very challenging to be in sync with the flow and sequence of the practice. Students shouldn’t have to strain to hear their teacher because of loud music. They are there to practice yoga, not hear your favorite song!

Pay attention to the sequence of the class.
Beyond all of this, music (when using appropriate songs ) can still serve as a very impactful tool during a yoga class. As a professional yoga DJ, my advice to yoga teachers is to select instrumental music without lyrics, choose music that is soothing and is easy to listen to. Do not choose music that contains abrupt, loud distracting sounds. Create a playlist or a mix that compliments and arcs the sequences and flow of the class. Lastly, choose a very soft ambient song during Savasana or do not play music at all.

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