Much like yoga, music is considered a form of alternative medicine. When used correctly, it can help to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, and even lower the heart rate. As music and yoga both have extraordinary healing powers, some people enjoy combining the two to magnify the effects. To practice yoga with music, all you need is some relaxing music and comfortable yoga clothes. In this article, we explore the collaboration of yoga and music in more detail.
Although yoga can be practised in silence, the effects of the therapy can be improved when it is paired with music. Below, we discuss a few of the ways that music can enhance your practice.
The first way that music can enhance your yoga practice is by improving meditation. Years ago, it was believed that meditation should be practised in silence; however, it is almost impossible to find complete silence, even inside a dedicated yoga space. In most environments you will be able to hear various sounds, whether that’s the sound of cars passing by, your colleagues talking, or your children playing. Even if the sound seems quiet, it will instantly become louder the moment you close your eyes. Many people find this distracting and subsequently find it difficult to meditate. This is where music becomes helpful. Instead of the distraction of background noise, your brain can focus on a relaxing piece of music. If you find the right style, music can help the mind to achieve stillness – the goal of meditation.
Another way that music can improve our yoga practice is by creating a positive mood. We have all experienced the difference music can make to our mood. Listening to a favourite song can instantly lift our spirits, even during some of the worst times. Often, this change in mood is caused by the memories the song helps us to remember. For many people, their favourite song is one that reminds them of a happy time in their lives such as their wedding, high school prom, or the birth of their child. However, studies suggest that the change can also be caused by the change in our brain’s electrical signals. As these electrical signals and our mood are closely related, changing the signals through the sound of music can physically alter our state of mind.
As mentioned previously, music can help us to remember past experiences. These memories, whether they’re good or bad, give us the chance to evaluate ourselves. Helping the brain to come to terms with our past self, music can help us to reflect on our actions whilst we practice. While this can be done during asana practice, many yogis prefer to use music with meditation and allow the brain to focus solely on reflection.
The final way that music can benefit our yoga practice is by enhancing our movement. During asana practice, some of the postures may seem difficult – especially for beginners. Music can make yoga feel like more of a dance than a random set of movements. Not only does this make it easier to transition between postures, but it makes holding each asana simple and effortless.
Before introducing music to your practice, it’s important to find the right style. Not all types of music boast the relaxing benefits needed to enhance your practice, so taking the time to find a style that works is essential. Additionally, just because a certain type of music works for one yogi, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for another. Below, we explore a few tips for choosing the right music.
If you’re unsure of what music to choose, opt for something natural. Natural music that features singing birds, flowing rivers, or the sound of waves is ideal for relaxing the mind. As the sounds are natural, most people will find them relaxing. Years ago, yogis would head to the forest to practice to be surrounded by the sounds of nature. While this is still an option for some, it can prove difficult for those that live in urban areas. Thankfully, natural sound archivists take time to record the sounds of nature and sell them in stores and online. This style of music can also be used as a therapeutic tool for meditation and stress relief.
Another option is traditional yoga music. Stemming from Indian culture, traditional yoga music uses Indian instruments such as the dilruba, bansuri, and dholak. These instruments are then combined with rhythmic mantra chanting to produce a relaxing piece of music.
If the previous options aren’t your thing, you may prefer to use classical music, instead. Although most classical music is orchestral, some pieces include other instruments or even solo voice. Classical music is known for its soothing melody designed to calm the mind of the listeners. The great thing about classical music is that there is such a wide choice. Some of the most famous composers include Johann Sebastian Bach, Claude Debussy, and Mozart.
If none of the above suggestions feel right, don’t be afraid to try something different. The right piece of music is down to personal preference; just because traditional music works for some yogis, that doesn’t mean it’s right for everybody!
Whether you’re an experienced practitioner or you’re just starting out, combine music with your practice to enhance the results. In the warmer months, some yogis enjoy practising outside. If you like the sound of this, try playing music through your phone or a portable speaker whilst you practice. If the sun is shining, remember to pack a bottle of suncream and a yoga cap to protect your skin from the harmful UV rays.