yoga music as a teaching toolBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Yogic music can be exhilarating, uplifting, inspiring, or gentle and soothing. There are advantages and disadvantages to listening to music during your own practice or while teaching a Yoga class. Some types of music, such as rock and roll or rhythm and blues, may invigorate your practice or class or may become a distraction to the dharana or one-pointed focus of the practice. On the other hand, music that is gentle, ambient, and soothing may add a mystical and relaxing element to a Yoga training session, but it may also dampen or calm the energy of the practitioners down too much if this type of music is played at an inappropriate time during a class.

Yoga music that is very upbeat will add an element of fun, familiarity, and exuberant joy to a class or a personal session. There are a number of well-known Yoga teachers who play musical tracts from groups like the Rolling Stones, Michael Franti, Bob Marley, and so on. These types of songs may help to raise our energy during a class so that we can jump more quickly back into Downward Facing Dog, but they may also prevent us from focusing on the more subtle aspects inherent in practicing asanas, mudras, bandhas and pranayama techniques.

Focusing on the ocean-sound of Ujjayi breathing is one of the core practices of Ashtanga Yoga. If “Jumping Jack Flash” is playing loudly over the studio speakers, the music may become a deterrent to maintaining a strong focus on your Ujjayi breathing practice. So, regardless if you are an instructor or practitioner, playing upbeat and inspiring musical tracks during your class or personal practice must be balanced with attention to the finer details of correct alignment, internal locks, and specific pranayama techniques of a well-rounded Yoga practice.

Yoga music that is soft, soothing, and ambient, is a wonderful complement to a restorative session, to the warm-up, and during the Shavasana period of a class. Music that is too relaxing and soothing in nature, may have the unintended effect of cooling the fire down during the heat of a session; such as: During the practice of Sun Salutations, Vinyasa flows, or strenuous asanas. In this case, playing gentle Yoga music may work best during the final resting period of your class or personal Yoga training session. When played at an appropriate time, relaxing music will complement and enhance a quieter, more contemplative portion of your personal practice or class.

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