Miska Zimanova
Category: Yoga

MUSIC OR SILENCE IN YOGA CLASSES?

I have been an amateur musician long before I became a yoga practitioner and a teacher. So it would only be natural to assume that I would be in favour of using music in yoga classes.  It turned out not to be as simple as that. I have certainly undergone some interesting phases of exercising (and exorcising) my human likes and dislikes of music in yoga classes, going back and forth and all-around ... This bumpy Yogic/Musical experience has taught me valuable lessons about interdisciplinary acceptance.


For some years, I only practised yoga in silence and only one particular style of Hatha yoga.  That’s all I knew and was comfortable with. Having never tried anything else (only hearing of other styles of yoga using music), I arrogantly dismissed even the idea of music whilst engaged in personal yogic practices. (yes, my ego live and kicking fed me all sorts of interesting untruths, amongst others - that my teacher at the time was always right....and she never used music)  I know, very short-sighted, considering I had not experienced other teachers to make any sort of comparison...............


Until....I attended my very first yoga teacher training. Vinyasa flow style, dynamic ,flowing, creative, challenging. My first day will never be erased from my mind; I could not get on with my practice, it was physically exhausting, I was all over the place but concentrating, much of it thanks to catchy tunes blearing out, and although the volume was probably perfectly acceptable by most peoples’ standards, to me, it was deafening.........for the whole 2.5 practice hours, I wished it would stop. (even if it were angels singing) I wished I never signed up for this training......the idea of noise (of any kind) whilst practising yoga was too much to bear.......


But since I had already paid all my savings to be there, with a very heavy heart, I decided to stay and suffer. I was in no position to fight the situation, only accept it.  So I did.  It was an interesting process.  From hating music during yoga.......to accepting it but not paying attention to it.......to loving it.........to being confused about it all...


The struggle continued during my first years of teaching.  I was full of other peoples’ ideas and concepts, ready to follow what they thought was the right way.......and I was afraid of my own creativity.  This of course didn’t satisfy me as a teacher as I felt there was a fundamental connection between yoga and sound. 


Then, through experience, opening myself to the guidance of my inner voice and permitting my creativity to express itself, I finally arrived at a place of peace.  I came to realize that there is time and space for both. Music and silence.  Depending on what one needs at the particular time, day, stage in life.   


So I carry on experimenting with sounds, rhythm, healing music, uplifting tunes.......and silence.  As long as the music supports the student and allows them to experience their practice in a deeper sense and understanding........music can really enhance one’s yoga journey.  And so can silence. 


The primordial mantra OM was the very first sound vibration expressed in our plane of existence (if you follow the yogic philosophy) so by default, sound vibration is an intrinsic part of what constitutes yoga. But for it to manifest, and make it relevant, there must have been silence first. 


Benefiting our human experience during yoga practice calls for skilful application of sound as well as silence.  Accepting what is already a beautiful manifestation of creation and everyday life.

Posted: 08 Oct 2012 By: A Avahara

As a musician and yogi, and a musician who specifically makes music for yoga, I feel the key question for an instructor to ask, or instinct to follow, is this: "Will the music take the students deeper into the experience, or pull them out of it?"

Composers like Jonathan Goldman (a favorite) or myself are using tones, harmonics, and other mechanisms that are designed to affect the listener's consciousness and body in a positive way that enhances yoga and similar practices. Especially for yin yoga, restorative, or therapeutic yoga, this style of music can be a great choice. For flow practices, music has the potential to change the student's consciousness by shifting the focus from the sweat and burning heat of the pose to the joy and lightness present in the moment.

In yoga we stress the importance of the student being in the moment. It is equally important for the instructor to be in the moment as well, and from that same place of deep feeling, check-in internally and feel what music, if any, is right for the moment.

- Avahara

Posted: 01 Feb 2013 By: Evelyn Ward de Roo

Thanks for bringing up this topic.
ev

Posted: 22 Mar 2013 By: Miska Zimanova Miska Zimanova

Yes, thank you Avara, i wholeheartedly agree! we must discriminate very carefully whether to use music and if we do, whether it can best serve the students experience of moving inwards. Thank you for posting!

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