Thursday, May 12, 2011

Tune up?

I love thinking about my practice almost as much as I love practicing. Corny, I guess, but it is where I am in my yogic journey. Today a conversation on Twitter amongst fellow yoginis (thanks Sonia, Maria and Faern!) got me thinking...

Why do I practice (and teach) in silence?

I know that music in yoga classes has gotten really popular. I love music -- heck, way back when I was a singer, I spent hours in practice rooms trying to sound good. Never enough hours, though, I guess... But I digress.

In yoga, I find music distracting. If I'm teaching, it distracts me from the students in front of me, the theme and sequence I've developed for the class and from the mindfulness I like to demonstrate in setting up and holding poses. Music makes me want to sing along or keep the beat or sway, but I don't find this helps my yoga. If I'm practicing, music distracts me from my focus on exploring sequence, alignment, breath -- from finding my steady, comfortable pose and from trying new ones.

But I've written before about how much I love chanting. I utilize chant in all of my classes -- to open and close. I find it particularly moving -- especially in my prenatal classes -- to have all those voices unite in honoring their practice, thus deepening it. I have secretly wanted to teach a class with chanting throughout. I listen to loads of yoga music, but off the mat -- in the car, the kitchen, the laundry room. I somehow have this compartmentalized in my practice.

My asana practice for me is about focusing in on my breath -- the sound of me -- breathing -- being -- as I move. It is a break from the din of motherhood -- the constant noise of my beloved toddlers being toddlers. It is about being with myself (as uncomfortable as that may be sometimes...) and honoring the divine in me, in the room and people around me, and in the universe beyond us all. Somehow I haven't found a way to do that to a soundtrack. I know I'm going to get hate mail on this one, but I just don't want to hear anything as I find my Trikonasana. I want to hear Trikonasana.

Part of it, I suppose, is that my teachers don't use music and so as the lineage goes, neither do I. Purists? Perhaps. I'm not sure I want to pin that one on myself at this early stage in my yoga life. I'm going to have to think and listen more about this -- I love the idea of yoga-ing in different ways. This is obviously an opportunity for me.

Maybe I need to tune up. What do you think? What do you like to listen to as your practice unfolds?


Maria @downwarddog said...

Glad your fellow yogini tweet buddies could inspire you today. I can't believe you have never practiced with music. I find it helps me relax and get into the moment. Always good to try something new! :)

Yogi on a Wire said...

Great blog and post! I think that there is something to be said for practicing in silence or to the sound of nature in order to move to the beat of your own internal music. However, I also find that music can be just as meditative and removes me quickly from my "mind stuff" while keeping me in the present moment. With that said, I do not teach beginners with music. I like to know that they are breathing. But for the more advanced yogis, anything goes. Sometimes I even let them choose the music and theme of the class. Music or no music, be authentic and make it fun:)

Anna Guest-Jelley said...

I'm all about the silence, too. I rarely use music in my home practice or teaching. In my home practice, I welcome the opportunity for quiet. And when teaching, I think silence makes it easier for everyone to hear and tune in.

I do like chanting and music on occasion, though! Thanks for this!

Anonymous said...

Yes, I prefer silence in class, for all the reasons you express.
In home practice, I'll occasionally practice to music, usually if I can't get up the gumption to get started. But the choices I make then are probably too esoteric and informed by the moment to work in a class, I don't think I can get away with teaching to the Dandy Warhols, nor do I want to!

Y is for Yogini said...

yes. silence is bliss. ;) that's what i prefer. music is so challenging. you'll never find anything that every single person loves. but silence...perfection. can't get enough.

Teeg said...

I would have to say i have had wonderful classes both with and without music. There are some beats that just touch the soul and ignite that kundalini fire and really energize my practice. And sometimes I find it distracting and a nuisance. That's the beauty of life and yoga - no two experiences are ever the same.

Beth said...

Interesting. I just wrote about this.

Try to pratice to the song Krisha Das' Baba Hanumana which you can hear in the link above. To me it enhances the practice.

Anonymous said...

As someone with a dance background, I thrive with music. When I am having difficulty filling the pose with breath, I'll try filling it with music instead, and sometimes just that one note will strike me in the heart and bring the pose to life.

However, the music I like during yoga and what I listen/dance to during the day are totally different. As much as I love grooving to Black Eyed Peas' "Imma Be" in the car, that would just be distracting in yoga!