How Music and Yoga Go Together


There are certain schools of thought that say only certain types of music should be allowed in yoga classes. These ideas usually belong to more restrictive forms of yoga, where the movements and their spirituality are paramount. However, one of the wonderful things about yoga is how easily it has been adapted to the needs of the modern world, and the use of music during classes is one sign of that.

Music has profound effects on people. It can alter your mood and encourage contemplation, evoke memories good or bad, and has been shown to reduce stress as well. Historically, music is said to predate language and be one of the first ways that people learned to communicate with each other. Because the effects of music on the brain are so profound and fundamental to the way it functions; when combined with yoga, these benefits can have powerful effects on practice.

Yoga has been used for centuries as a form of moving meditation, with one of the end goals being elevation from the physical. With this aim in mind, music is a distraction from this lofty goal, noise that draws attention away from contemplation and dedicated practice towards more earthly things. With practitioners that still follow these ideals, music is used only rarely and then only the types of music that are deemed as spiritual.

There are two problems with this idea in modern day yoga practices. The first is the idea of spirituality itself. The appreciation of music, the idea of what is spiritual, is a highly individual thing in today’s society. Music that is spiritual to one person may not be to the next, so it is impossible for one person to decide what will be appropriate for another.

The second issue is the changing nature of yoga. For many people, yoga is less a spiritual practice than one of mindfulness and movement. It is exercise, and thus the ban on music no longer makes sense in their practice.

This is why music can be a perfect match for your yoga practice. Chosen carefully, the music can craft your movements into a kind of dance, making difficult postures feel easier and more natural.

The type of music that goes well with yoga is a hotly debated topic. Some instructors use only Indian music while others are more eclectic, choosing music that goes with the mood of the postures or the mental states they are trying to evoke. The only way to decide which type of music might enhance your personal practice is to try different genres and see what the effects are on your experience.

Whether or not music is a part of your yoga practice is an individual choice. During classes, its use is dependent on the focus of the class, as well as the training of the instructor. Music can add dimensions of feeling and memory to your practice that can enhance and deepen your contemplation and mindfulness. If these benefits are part of why you enjoy yoga, then it’s worth testing the effect of including music in your personal practice.