Having retired, I got plenty of free time to work on my tasks-to-do and books-to-read lists. Soon, my lists became much shorter and so I started to think of what to do with my spare time. That’s where my beloved wife helped and took me to a yoga class.
Honestly, I didn’t expect too much from it…but I soon got hooked. It’s been five years since that class and I’m still practicing yoga. I’ve tried different yoga types from Hatha to Iyengar and practiced in different places, but the only thing that has never changed is the music.
Whatever type of yoga I practice, I always do so accompanied by gentle music. But one time, while I was out practicing, my phone suddenly died and I had to practice in silence.
It was a whole new experience, after which I started thinking whether it’s really important to listen to music during yoga class. Here are the pros and cons I found based on my experience and my yoga-addicted friends’ feedback.
Pros and Perks
1. Your mood gets better.
The right playlist can quickly enhance your mood and helps transport you “in the clouds.” Whether it’s ocean or fireplace sounds, a bird singing, or even hard rock (who knows!), it should bring your mind to a positive atmosphere and recall happy life moments.
This is why it’s always better to have a number of playlists for different moods. Also, I don’t recommend shuffling the tracks. It’s better to think of what you plan to do and what your intentions are before yoga class and then select tracks that will suit the poses and your mood.
2. Music helps yoga beginners.
As a beginner, it’s important to listen and follow your teacher’s cues and instructions. However, teachers are also human so they can’t talk every single second of the class. Having music in the background will help you remain focused and in the moment so your mind doesn’t wander during those minutes or seconds of silence.
By listening intently to the music and focusing on where you are, you’re able to connect both to the pose and to the music itself.
4. Music masks unwanted sounds.
This might sound petty to some of you, but let’s be honest—in almost every yoga class there’s that one person who is constantly coughing, scratching, or breathing too loud. It gets even worse when you are doing reclined poses and trying to get close to the earth. In this case, music can help mask any annoying sounds that can bother and irritate you.
5. Music helps focus on feelings.
If you’re having troubles at work, in your relationship, or life in general, it might be hard for you to relax, focus on positive emotions, and reach a peaceful state of mind. The right track or sound will help you calm down and concentrate on your inner feelings.
Those were the positive aspects of turning on the music player while practicing yoga asanas and meditation. Now, let’s discuss the cons.
Cons and Downsides
1. Music controls your mind.
Vipassana means insight into the true nature of reality. Those who practice Vipassana meditation try to meet their inner state as it is, with all its positive and negative aspects like hatred, envy, jealousy, etc. By understanding how these negative emotions come about and how fast they pass, we can reduce their influence on our mind.
Since music can influence your mood and state of mind, it’s too easy to let the “happy songs” make you forget the uncomfortable and unpleasant things in your life instead of acknowledging them and learning how to manage these not-so-good thoughts and emotions.
2. You get “captured” by music.
Setting the mood is important, but when you meditate and listen to music at the same time, ALL the time, you might miss out on learning to tame your mind without any external factors. If your mind gets used to “relaxing” only when a similar sound is playing, you’ll have trouble once you have to meditate in silence.
3. Music doesn’t let you meditate.
For quite a lot of my yoga mates, meditation has nothing to do with music. They say that when you listen to the calm and quiet tracks, you simply relax—and that’s not what meditation is. Meditation, for them, is a process of learning to tame and control your brain, to stay calm when all the other people around are anxious.
They believe that the meditation process should be done in silence, and so it doesn’t and shouldn’t require any external help, such as music.
4. Music can spoil your practice.
There are songs that make you happy and songs that have a negative recall in your brain. If you’re trying a new yoga class and/or teacher and they play music that fall under the latter category, this can affect your practice and overall yoga class experience.
Just imagine there is a track you really hate. Maybe it’s linked to bad memories and hurtful people, the lyrics offend you, or you simply don’t like it. Of course, you can ask your teacher to delete it from the playlist, but it might be difficult if the rest of the class like that particular song.
5. Music can be a distraction.
Bad transitions between tracks can break you out of your inner journey. So if you’re making a playlist yourself, make sure there are no songs with abrupt endings or sudden loud noises. Some music may also be too fast or too loud and doesn’t suit a particular asana flow.
I had a modern yoga teacher who liked to turn on pop music. It was mostly medleys, which were okay for the practice except one day, people started to sing. The whole class ended up singing altogether. Although it was a pretty cool moment and we felt happy, it’s not exactly what most people go to yoga class for. (That’s what karaoke bars are for, no?)
Nowadays, I try to mix “yoga with music days” with silent ones so I don’t get used to just one mood or method. What do you think? Do you listen to music while doing yoga? I’d be happy to learn more pros and cons in the comments below.
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