I went to a flow yoga class a few weeks ago with a teacher I’d never before practiced with. I would have really liked the class—if it weren’t for the Jay-Z. Don’t get me wrong: I like hip-hop. But I can’t get down with it when I am practicing asana.
In fact, all pop music really distracts me in a yoga class. It’s hard for me to focus on my breath when there is a bass throbbing beneath me, and I never feel like the music is totally in time with my movements. Plus it always seems that, just as I am easing into the steady flow of practice, a song comes on that reminds me of an ex-boyfriend and I am suddenly meandering into that past relationship instead of being present with my current Danurasana.
My main teachers don’t play a lot of music and when they do it is soft, barely in the background, and generally of the meditative or devotional sort. Perhaps the reason that they don’t play loud pop music is because they stop a lot to demonstrate poses and discuss yogic principles, and the music can be hard to talk over. Also, if you are encouraging students to set the rhythm of their practice to their breath, music can disrupt that rhythm. As a teacher, I don’t play pop music in the class because I feel like it distracts me from teaching, and I find it hard to match it up exactly to the pace of the class, which changes not only based on my instruction but also on the students’ energy.
That said, I’ve got nothing against the idea of dance music in yoga class! I certainly know dedicated yogis who love to jam out to really intense soundtracks. In fact, these yogis make up a huge part of the yoga-practicing population, as evidenced by the fact that boogie-down Vinyasa classes set to trendy tunes are often crazy packed. I can see how music can be an effective tool for some people in the way that it gives a busy mind an external focus point. And at its heart, yoga is truly a dance.
I’d love to hear some thoughts about pop music as a tool in asana practice. Do you prefer to rock out in your yoga class? And to what kind of music? Or do you like to practice in relative quiet? Does dance music take you deeper into your practice? Or does it bring you out? Write in and tell us what you think!