Music in Yoga

I sometimes struggle with the concept of playing music in a yoga class. Experiencing music in a class is great, but many times it can detract from the depths of the yoga meditation. By the same token, sometimes it can deepen stretches and even the breath. I think the music’s efficacy really depends on the genre of music being played and the ability of the teacher to set ambiance and mood.

A big factor is the charisma of the teacher. Someone like Bryan Kest can teach without music because his dialogue is extremely entertaining anyways. Sometimes it is nice to have music simply to provide background noise to drop into, and some teachers work really well with playlists. I think it really depends on the type of music and the ability of the teacher to manage it.

Music is incredibly uplifting and transcendent in a yoga class; many of my favorite classes have also had incredible playlists. Savasana is one of those poses where you have to really manage the ambient sound so sometimes a soft love song can top of a class perfectly. A lot of it is about timing and a lot of it is about choosing music that flows well together.

I am definitely for music in yoga classes, but I also like to have some classes where there is no music occasionally. I think that music is incredibly healing, but it can also detract from the internal focus of the yogi. Another aspect to consider is being able to meditate despite the distraction of music.

By the same token, humans are vibrational in nature; its part of the reason that we love drums, dancing, and singing so much. So allowing music that resonates with your soul into the yoga room can help others to transcend as well. Something like chanting can also help others to reach states of transcendence. In conclusion, it is important to recognize what the teacher has to offer and how much charisma they have when considering the music situation. So do what feels right….

Please share your favorite yoga music and artists in the comments 🙂

The Opening Ashtanga Chant

Sanskrit of the opening Ashtanga salute to Patanjali

Chanting is powerful, especially in Sanskrit. But I don’t like chanting without knowing the meaning of the words I am saying. Here is a translation of the opening Ashtanga chant:

I pray to the lotus feet of the supreme guru
Who teaches the good knowledge, showing the way
To knowing the self-awakening great happiness,
Beyond better is the doctor of the jungle, able to remove
The poisoned ignorance of conditioned existence.

In his guise as the divine servant,
With 1,000 white radiant heads,
Human form below the shoulders,
Holding the sword of discrimination,
The fire wheel of time,
and the conch of divine sound,
To the sage Patanjali I prostrate.

Here’s the original chant:

vande gurunam caranaravinde
sandarsitasvatma sukhava bodhe
nih sreyase jangalikayamane
samsara halahalamohasantyai
abahu purusakaram
sankhacakrasi dharinam
sahasra sirasam svetam
pranamami patanjalim