Music or Not?

I’ve been secretly doing this experiment with students during class… observing their practice with music and without.  I’ll take it a bit further.. type of music…”yoga” music and “non-yoga” music.  It’s interesting!  Needless to say, it’s a half half crowd. Some like it.  Some don’t.

The question is:  if you need music, why are you dependent on it?  if you need silence, why are you dependent on it.  My answer:  It shouldn’t matter.  Really!  It’s all about your reaction.  Practice presence no matter what the environment is… or what I said in class one night, “if you don’t like the music, deal with it.”

Distractions are just another opportunity to live your yoga.  Today I am inspired by music.  Here’s my playlist today (90 mins):

Thank You – Alanis Morissette
Mellow Beats – unknown artist
Yes I Will – Michael Franti
Let it Be – Madonna
True to Myself – Ziggy Marley
I Can Be – Taio Cruz
Be the Change – MC Yogi
Give a Little  More – Maroon 5
Got to Be Real – Mary J. Blige & Will Smith
Black is the Night – DJ Vadim featuring Katherin DeBoer
Give Love – MC Yogi
I’m Yours – Jason Mraz
Baba Hanuman- Krishna Das
Sita Ram – Krishna Das
Heart as Wide as the World – Krishna Das
By Your Grace – Krishna Das

After hearing the music beat and my breath jump, savasana in utter silence is so meaningful!

My favorite from the list is Be The Change by MC Yogi (I was there at Wanderlust and it was amazing!):

BTW, this was inspired by Studio Rincon (where I teach a few classes).  They turn it up, YogaRok.  It’s fun, upbeat and then utter silence.  So cool!


11 thoughts on “Music or Not?

  1. the tough thing about music is that you can never please everyone. i’ve been in classes where the music enhances + i love what is played. then there are the other times where certain playlists make me want to stab myself in the ears or walk out.

    i also believe that Savasana is so, so sacred and should always be silent. 🙂

  2. I have gone to classes with music and those without. For the most part, I have enjoyed the music. For those classes where the teachers don’t play music, I notice it for a moment and then forget about it. I have read somewhere that music with a particular beat (like “yoga” music) is calming to the heart because your heartbeat will begin to match it. I’m a middle school teacher and play calming music for the first few minutes of class. The kids don’t like it for about a day or two and then they relax into it. Eventually they make requests. I have noticed there have been days when I feel like the music calms me.

  3. I’m a fan of music in class, but it depends on the day. Some days it works better for me than others. The best is when I’m so engaged in my practice that I don’t really notice the music, but then afterward or at transition points between poses, I’ll realize how much I’m enjoying it. If there is music in a class I attend regularly, I like some switching up from time to time, rather than a constant playlist for a particular class.

  4. Seems like I’m the opposite… at home, I usually practice in silence but play some relaxing music during savasana- somehow I find my mind wanders less when I have it. I usually choose around 10 minute long songs, so when the music is over I know its time to go back to reality 🙂

  5. I use music because my students want music. Like Nancy A, I have had classes where one student loved the music and another hated it. I go with the majority. I do what the regular students who pay money and come back week after week want.

    I teach in several different studios and environments. I have classes where the students don’t care and I have classes where the students have to have a specific type of music or they will complain and not come back.

    It is not about me. It is about the student.

  6. I taught a free class about a month ago that was completely packed. It was a Thanksgiving class so I put on a playlist I specially made for it that revolved around gratitude/thanks, etc. Not raging, not uber mellow just lovely. After class a woman who had NEVER taken my class before came up to me and said “just a tip, you shouldn’t play music in class with words. it’s distracting!” (secretly I wanted to say “just a tip, you shouldn’t try to school the yoga teacher when you attempted to do Vira I in socks!”) but I didn’t. I said “thanks for letting me know, some people like this type of music and some don’t and so I try to mix it up.” About 15 min later I went to get Starbucks and one of my regular students was there who had just taken this same class. She came up to me and said: “I have to tell you that you have THE BEST playlists ever! It completely makes my day to come to your classes and listen to what you pick.”

    I kid you not this is a true story! I’ve given up trying to worry about what works for students and started going with what works for me. I KNOW it will resonate with some of them and others will not dig what I choose. That’s fine… there are lots of other yoga teachers they can attend class from and I know I’ll be teaching an class that is authentic to me.

    Personally I sometimes love the silence because it allows me to really hear my breath and that of the other students as well. Other times I am so moved by something I hear in class maybe in a happy way b/c it’s groovy or in an emotional way b/c it hits a nerve. I like both!

    This was just a really long comment to say: you go girl and I love the playlist! xo

    • Love that playlist…looks like fun!

      As for music: when I’m practicing in a group I enjoy music, but when I’m by myself I can take it or leave it. It just depends on how I feel that day. I have pretty eclectic music tastes so I almost never feel that the music is distracting in class situations. I’ve even had one teacher break out old-school rap and hip-hop, and that was fun.

      When I teach, I make my playlist for *me* and try not to worry about what the students think too much. I do try to match the music to the mood of the practice (ie, faster songs for core work and slower music toward the end of class). But I figure that when I’m a student, I tend to listen to closely to the teacher that I only notice the music here and there….the rest of the time it’s just background noise. So I don’t stress too much about whether or not *my* students will like my playlists. 🙂

    • You rock Nancy! People are always stuck in their comfort zones and they come to yoga like that. I like to rock to music and sometimes not too. I always give room for silence at the end if I ever play music. In the end it is about you holding space for others but do so in an authentic way that really is YOU! As teachers I think we have to be careful so we don’t fall in the trap of worrying about pleasing our students. If you’re authentic people will resonate with you and come back.


      • I LOVE quiet for Savasana because I don’t like distractions (which is why I’m also not a huge fan of Savs assists). But I’ve found that lots of students get really restless with zero music the whole time. If I play something quiet I can keep them relaxing longer. Lately I’ve been obsessed with : Ananda Giri, Jane Winter and David/Steve Gordon for Savasana. If it’s a really cool song like “Yellow” by JEM I find that the whole time I’m there I’m thinking: “I’ve got to figure out who this song is by so I can get it for me.”

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