There’s usually a difference of opinion on whether yoga should be practiced with or without music. As we discussed in our Introduction to Yoga, it means different things to different people. Personal preference on the type of music used certainly plays a part, but there are also some advantages and disadvantages. Read on to find out some of the pros and cons of music during a yoga practice, and make up your own mind.
A very traditional approach to yoga would advocate little or no outside noise when practicing. This is to ensure there are no distractions from the practice and so each inhale and exhale is audible. The sound of the breath can be very powerful in remaining focused, but also in guiding the practitioner on whether they have space to explore a pose further, or ease off and modify. Yoga mantras and chants have however also been used for many centuries as a way to quieten the thoughts and the mind. Nāda yoga is based on vibrations. These, along with sound and music, aid the deepening of unity with both the inner and outer cosmos.
Yoga is like music: the rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.” – B.K.S. Iyengar
When listening to music during a yoga class, we are likely to breathe in sync with the rhythm of the music. This can lead us to take in more oxygen, which in turn helps to calm the body and the mind.
Those of us with busy lives and a busy mind may find it hard to concentrate. Having music playing during a yoga class can help to distract the mind and help us to relax. It can help us to focus and ignore distractions such as background noise, other people in the class or noises outside of the room.
The majority of yoga classes end with a resting pose called Savansana where everybody settles into a comfortable position and remains still. Music can help with feelings of relaxation and help with feeling calm as the class ends.
There are practical considerations such as volume. If the music in a yoga class is too loud, the teacher’s instruction may not be audible. Those in the class may not easily be able to follow instruction. The type and quality of the music system can also affect the experience greatly.
In a commercial setting, a yoga teacher must ensure that they have secured the necessary rights to use the music. Failure to do so may result in legal action by the composer or by musicians’ rights organisations. There is a wide variety of “royalty-free” music available online, which can be used without fear of prosecution. Check the terms of the free licence beforehand.
What’s your favourite style of music to practice to or do you prefer silence? Let us us know in the comments below