Saraswati-vrindavanart.comMusic has an immense power to take us through many emotional states. A substantial field of interesting research can be found about the numerous effects of music, and it’s only naturally that it would have an impact on yoga practice.

When I have participated in classes that incorporate music as part of the lesson, I have found it to be a distraction. I would notice that I was relating to the music instead of to my body – which to me at the time was not ‘doing yoga’. I would notice that I was paying less attention to my breath, my muscles, and my experience of the various postures. My relationship to each pose, the connection to my breath and to my inner observer was somehow lessened. Music presented itself as a block between me and what yoga was about for me at the time.

I found myself making a case for and against the use of music during asana practice. I saw that many people preferred it, and a part of me was curious to understand why, so that I could also reap some of the benefits should there be some.

Looking back, I can see that my mind had calculated something that my conscious awareness had not yet caught up with.  Something was at play, and rather than reacting to these thoughts, I temporarily filed them away – the mind does that sometimes. My mind (and the universe if you like that sort of thing) was either being very clever and waiting to reveal all at an appropriate time, or I was deceiving myself and not being true to my needs at the time – the mind also does that sometimes!

After a few months of continuing to attend classes that incorporated music as part of practice, I found myself realising that music during a class helped me to relax my body in a way that I was unable to do without music.  I noticed that it made the transitions between poses significantly smoother and it offered access to something deeper. I would find myself simply responding to the rhythms and the guidance of the teacher. This was particularly beneficial when having a ‘monkey mind’ kind of day – when it was a struggle to let go of thoughts during practice.

Certain music supported me to be better able to stay in the present, it helped me to let go of thoughts and feelings, and subtly supported my flow into each posture. [Fairy Dust Alert] It was almost as though my spirit was dancing through the poses. I noticed that although I was less in touch with the observer in me, the feeling of letting go was similar to what I experience during dance.

Music has the uniquely capacity to help us to open up to the experience of truly letting go, of simply being. It offers a way to connect to the wilder, freer energy inside and assists in a letting go that can otherwise be more challenging. Meditation offers an opportunity to observe such processes so it makes sense to be open to both.

I invite you to open to using music as part of your practice from time to time to explore yoga from a different perspective. If you have a moment, I would love to hear thoughts and experiences. Interesting articles or blogs on the subject would also be gratefully received.