October 21, 2011

Not Safe for Yoga.

Does your spiritual path have a soundtrack?

A yoga teacher friend recently posed a question about music that you love that wouldn’t be appropriate for a yoga class. Of course being the silly, irreverent girl that I am I immediately suggested this:

Fun. Funny. Sexy. Silly. And totally NSFY.


Great for karaoke, not so much for yoga.

Then, I started thinking about this a little more. This past year, most of my yoga practice has been at home. One of the things I love about practicing at home is that I can play with pairing music with my Vinyasa that fits me, that raises my vibe, rather than some of the typical yoga class picks.

Don’t get me wrong, lots of “yoga music” is great. I’m even starting to get into Kirtan a little more. But music…well…I always say that music is my performance enhancing drug (second only to this one .) Everybody has those songs that just electrify them, that hit right at the base of the spine and work their way up to your smile and give you goosebumps all over. You can probably think of at least one song that immediately makes you turn the volume up, throw your shoulders back, and start dancing (even if you’re driving.) Or those other songs that make your heart swell so much with their bittersweet beauty that it brings you to tears. So why not include that in your yoga practice?

My yoga playlist has been full of those bittersweet beauties lately. It’s good to keep that raw, broken open heart. That’s keeping it real. It’s too easy to be jaded and hide under the armor of slick cynicism, busyness, and pretense…all the things that are the opposite of mindfulness.

So in my practice, I’ve been falling in love with life along with Ingrid Michaelson,


And letting go with Bon Iver.


I’m sure some people will balk at this one, but sometimes The Pixies feel just right:



And lying in Savasana soaking up some Damien Rice is perfect too.


Over the years I’ve used everything from The Clash, to Chopin, to Mumford and Sons, to Adele, to Sufjan Stevens and on and on including everything that connects to that internal spark and makes me hum––body and soul. We don’t have to be somber and serious to be spiritual, do we?

But I read something here on elephant journal recently that made me reconsider this eclectic, irreverent soundtrack I’ve been using.  If the point of our practice is to still the chaos, and quiet our minds, maybe it would be better to step away from these things that affect us so much. This isn’t just a workout. It isn’t meant to be yogatainment. I meditate morning and evening, and wouldn’t think of using music during that practice. It would be the exact opposite of what I needed.

Maybe the only music we need is the internal kind. Maybe the cadence of my heartbeat is enough. Maybe the swell of my breath and the space between my joints as they flow through these lyrical asanas should be my soundtrack.

Is music an important part of your practice? If you teach yoga, how much thought do you put into the music you include during your classes? Are there songs that you consider off limits or NSFY? How do you decide?



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