Move to the Music
Posted by: Leili Learning Life
This teacher training weekend, we study sound and silence. Michelle invited us to discuss the pros and cons of practicing to music on Friday.
We are profoundly affected by music. These sounds, melodies, and beats can alter a mood, affect the breath, and inspire movement. It can be argued that because music can influence us so strongly, music is a distraction to the practice. We are pulled out of the experience of noticing what is happening inside the body and mind, entering a dialogue of “This sounds pretty” or “I don’t like this song.” Perhaps the music takes us to another time, another place, and we begin to follow a memory as we sit on our mats. Observation of the breath, body sensations, and emotions of the current moment is lost.
All that aside, I love music. There are so many songs that, as I listen to them, almost seem to be a log on the fire of my practice — listening to them, I feel inspired and renewed. I file these songs away as part of the Ultimate Class Soundtrack I’ll play when I become A Yoga Teacher. My students will be inspired in the same way that I was, all because I unlocked something in their hearts with this magical music.
[Yes, that's facetiousness.]
My own journey into yoga was accompanied by music. For the first year of my practice, I took classes to the sounds of Girish, Aretha Franklin, and Thelonious Monk. I loved it. I felt like yoga could be anything I wanted it to be.
For teacher training, we enter the studio in silence, and begin our practice in silence — no music. Saturday was different. We entered the studio to some music I was instantly drawn to. I thought it had been left on after the previous class ended. The music was loud, the beat was going. Silence seemed out of place. How could I not greet my fellow trainees “hello”?
I rolled out my mat, and the music continued. We were instructed to begin class with our own freestyle practice. I was disappointed to find that the music was in fact distracting. Michelle was going to ruin practicing to music. I knew it. She’s so mean. I couldn’t maintain a natural breath (the music was infectious). I couldn’t keep my body still to really feel the effects of the poses (the music was moving). I couldn’t focus on the process happening inside of me (the music was loud, and some songs I really liked, while some songs I couldn’t wait to be over). I found myself clinging to the silent pauses between songs, wondering if the music would stop. How funny.
What a great in-the-moment experiment. I can see now that music won’t hold a primary place in my practice. That said, I’m sure there will be times when music will be welcomed or appropriate. In either case, the value of silence is unmistakeable.