Tuesday, March 1, 2011
I recently attended a class led by a teacher who apologetically told us that she left her iPod somewhere. Hence, we would have no music in class. But I love that she instead told us to focus on our breath all throughout. That the breath would be our music.
It was truly such a refreshing change from the many yoga classes I've attended. Don't get me wrong, I do love yoga music, especially when the melody and pace suits the style of the class. Deva Premal chants or upbeat Michael Franti tunes are fabulous for vinyasa classes, as well as the more soothing Zen-like music for yin or restorative classes. But sometimes, I have to admit that music can become a distraction for me, especially when I really want to tune in to my body and go inward. I think I feel this most especially when I already feel a great deal of mental clutter. Trying to listen to an instructor's verbal cues while having music in the background (especially if the songs have lyrics) gives my brain more things to attend to when I really just want to attend to my breath or alignment or safety in the pose. But I also understand that sometimes, certain kinds of music are great at helping me let go of the mental clutter. I think it's great especially when the instructor thoughtfully puts together a playlist of songs that match the flow of the class - from the centering kind of music for the initial breathwork and meditation, to somewhat faster or energetic tunes for the more vigorous sun salutations and standing poses, then slowing down forthe seated and supine poses all the way to the final relaxation. Even in my home practice, there are days when I want music to get me going, on days when I'm dragging my feet. But some days, it feels really good to be unplugged for a while, in which case I like to do it quietly. It just depends.
Besides... didn't yogis back in the day practice in silence anyway, or to the sounds of nature? Before the days of iPods and surround sound speaker systems, people practiced yoga as is, where is. Unplugged (well, there was nothing to plug in back then...), but completely connected.
Hearing everyone's ujjayi breath in class that evening was a powerful experience. It was amazing to just hear everyone so tuned in, in the here and now. I'd like to think that there was this collective energy from everyone in that room being present, listening to their breath and listening to their own bodies. There was a rhythm to it unlike any other music.
I certainly won't mind if our instructor didn't bring her iPod every now and then. :)
What are your thoughts on yoga music?