March 3, 2014

Why I Teach With Music. ~ Demetra Szatkowski

Chris Chavez - Spanish Banks Yoga Class - 34


“I want my music to sound like throwing yourself out of a tree, or off a tall building, or as if you’re being sucked down into the ocean and you can’t breathe. It’s something overwhelming and all-encompassing that fills you up, and you’re either going to explode with it, or you’re just going to disappear.”

~ Florence Welch

I have always had a special connection to music. I feel it in my arms, I feel it in my bones, I feel it in my heart. I am drawn to mystical sounds and will wander to find a guitar when I can hear the sound of it in the distance.

So it hits me particularly hard when I read about all the reasons why music shouldn’t be played during a yoga class. And so, I am writing this for all the people like me. The people that feel the music in their souls and want to share it with others.

I am speaking for the creative teachers of yoga who live and breathe their playlists. Whose songs provide inspiration for their crazy sequences. Whose pure energy is lifted up and transported by the beat of a drum.

I am not speaking for teachers who go into a class, pop a random CD into the CD player, and begin teaching. I am not speaking for teachers coming from a strict traditional background, teaching a strict traditional form of yoga. I don’t know why all teachers play music and I don’t know if all of them should. I do not mind being a student in a class where the teacher teaches in silence.

When I first started teaching, I will admit that I totally relied on the music. The sounds filled the silence when I forgot what I was saying. I was afraid to play anything other than kirtan, because I was scared people wouldn’t like it and they wouldn’t come back to my class. (Don’t judge new teachers—it’s (hopefully) just a phase.)

The more I taught, the more I let go of that fear. Once I became more comfortable leading the room, I realized that there would always be people who liked and didn’t like my classes, whether it was because of my music, my sequencing or just me in general. If they didn’t want to come, they could find a different teacher. And once I started truly acting like myself, the more my classes grew and the more teaching opportunities arose.

I would not have written this article if I had never taught in silence. The day did come when the speakers in the studio broke, without any warning or time for mental preparation.

Let me reiterate: I rarely enjoy silence. But much like taking a class without music, I found that it didn’t really bother me. I found myself speaking a little more than usual, coming up with philosophical thoughts I didn’t even know I had. People still liked my class and said thank you when they left. It was nice.


I don’t want nice. I want amazing, incredible. I want I felt that in a way I never have before and thank you so much that was exactly what I needed.

The thing is, music is more me. That’s not to say that I won’t ever go without it again, because I’m sure there will be a day or two when I feel like having quiet. And if you feel like silence is better for you, then by all means utilize that.

I thrive on the beauty the music adds to a yoga class, the way it makes emotions so much easier to access. The way an uplifting, strange, energetic song makes your body want to move to the beat and flow through more challenging poses. The way a slow, sad song touches something in you and releases tears. The way you can feel the song pulsing through your body, waking up your inner wild being and making you fall back in love with your life.

I create my playlists with that energy in mind. I want you to feel and I want you to dance. I want you to laugh and cry, and while I’m sure you could do that without the music, all the beautiful vibrations of sound just make it so much more enjoyable.

Plain and simple, the music adds magic.

Gypsy moon loving free spirited magic.

Here are some of my examples of music that will help to enhance your practice.


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Editorial Assistant: Celeste Shea/Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Chris Chavez

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Demetra Szatkowski