Music: The Yoga Experience

I had an interesting thing happen last night while subbing a hot yoga class. I was about 3 or 4 songs into class when a woman came up to me while I was teaching and asked me a question. First, I’ve never had anyone approach my mat while I was teaching. Second, she had an accent so I couldn’t really understand her at first. And lastly, she asked me if I could play music without lyrics. Hmmm?

When I took teacher training, we talked a lot about the proper use of music in yoga. We were advised to use music without any lyrics at all. The tone of the music should fit the intensity of the class. And, like in Ashtanga, music isn’t always desired anyway.

When I first started teaching yoga, I largely abided by these criteria. But that didn’t last long. I happened to teach at a fitness gym that also had physical therapy, massage, and other healing modalities. It also tended to cater to an older crowd. I led a moderately intense yoga class at 6 am several mornings a week. Most of the class were people my age or slightly older. I think the music I chose fit with their general likes as well. And it seemed better when I used music that they could connect with.

I know my music won’t fit everyone’s styles or needs. But the best thing happened when I started teaching Rocket Yoga. Rocket was developed by Larry Schultz, the traveling Ashtangi to the Grateful Dead. So Rocket was steeped in Rock n’ Roll and Ashtanga. So I felt I was given carte blanche to play this kind of music in Rocket. So I play rock, hip-hop, funk, easy classics, and even EDM. I play an intro while we’re warming up of mostly invocations and Bollywood sounding themes. Then, as we are energizing, I kick in the jams. I range from Major Lazer to The Smashing Pumpkins to David Bowie and Eminem. As we start to chill in seated asanas, we stroll into Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Stevie Nicks, Damien Rice, and Dido. And then I finish in savasana with a mellow sound from my Thai Yoga Massage playlist.

Once, a lady from Australia asked about a song I played. She liked it, but when I suggested she check out my Spotify, she said she wouldn’t be doing that. So she was one of few who likely didn’t care for most of my music. And that’s OK. She kept coming to class. I had one lady who was totally in synch with my music. She used to sing and dance along to what I was playing. I really loved having her in class. We shared a mutual love for music.

However, in one instance, I was teaching Rocket and Eminem came on early in our heating phase. A lady walked out of the room, but came back after the song was over. Afterward, she said she had been on a music “fast” so hearing hard rap music was hard for her. I’m ok with that. But I’m not sure I ever restrict my life to not hearing music. I don’t think I’ll ever do that. Its like saying I shouldn’t drink water for a period of time. Nope, not gonna happen.

I really love music a lot. I like quite a variety of music. My music fits my mood. I play Zydeco when I’m cooking Cajun food. Maybe Mariachi when I’m cooking Mexican food. I play sad music if I’m sad. And when I’m doing CrossFit, nothing but metal will do. And I play it loud. Metallica, Accept, Motorhead, Black Sabbath, and Korn are some of my Go-To groups. They get my heart beating and drive my energy through the roof. Its like a Mosh Pit with Barbells.

I’m teaching a Glow Yoga Party next week. Its so fun because I play music hard and loud. We have blacklights and body paint and funky lights. Its so much fun!! Its really a Rave. Doing yoga like this is so energetic. Sometimes you need energy. It doesn’t always have to be somber and serene. It can be loud and rambunctiously playful too!

Play it loud!!!


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