Yoga: it’s got the music in us! (Part 2)

Close-up of a drum

March 1 2019 | Yoga Practice

Part one of our mini-series explained why music is a terrific companion to yoga. In part two we deal with the practical considerations of incorporating music into your yoga classes.

Choosing your music

It’s almost imperative that you like music and have a broad repertoire to choose from. Pick music you like and which you personally can practise yoga to, before using it in a session.

Experiment, be bold and break the mould in your choice of music. Most of your students will almost definitely like music, particularly if it has substance and quality. Avoid the Muzak you may hear in hotel foyers and spas: unless that reflects your style of yoga teaching.

You’ll need considerably more experience, confidence and knowledge than an ordinary yoga class requires. You must be confident in your ability to adapt yoga postures to the rhythm, timbre and character of the music. You require something like a disc-jockey’s intuition for linking tunes. Be prepared to surrender control.

Rhythm, timbre and a good tune are priorities. You’re looking for qualities that will work with yoga as you personally teach it. How does the music make you feel? Listen to timing, beat, tone, tonality, sound quality, voice, colour, loud and softness, highs and lows, resonance and production values.

Planning your yoga sessions

If you’re a teacher who requires a rigid lesson plan, documenting specific postures to certain tunes may be an impediment. For me, the music becomes my lesson plan. In fact, as you build up your library of playlists you’ll soon discover how useful music is for setting the mood and timing of your session.

During relaxation it’s important to play neutral, less emotionally arousing music. Sentimental music is not a good idea. I find Tibetan bowls just about the best sound for relaxation, and of course don’t forget to use silence! As you get more assured you can select more imaginative choices.

To give you an idea of how long this takes in terms of preparation: I easily spend six hours a week preparing two or three mix-tapes for the six lessons a week I teach. I thoroughly enjoy the satisfaction and fun creating quality playlists. I’ve been doing this for some time – you do get quicker and more intuitive. Plus, my knowledge of music is pretty thorough, which helps.

Finding the right technology

The technology available is ideal as you can easily create playlists. I use the streaming service Tidal which tracks your selections and often finds alternative interpretations of a track. You can also share your playlists with your clients using a link which Tidal creates. I frequently get asked for details of a track – this way you can circulate the playlist online.

Be careful if you use your mobile phone to stream: the phone could ring! I use an iPad with a SIM so that I’m not reliant on WiFi – a valuable insurance. There’s no need to buy new, as there are some great secondhand buys available with lots of storage – another good insurance against dodgy WiFi.

Investing in yogamusicology

You don’t have to spend a lot. But if you want to disperse the music well you do need a decent sized Bluetooth speaker, maybe with a sturdy stand for safety and dispersion. Bose (£530) or Marshall (£220) speakers are what I have used. You do not need a big speaker to fill up a room with sound, but you do get what you pay for. Considering you’ll probably have invested time in planning your playlists and sessions it’s a shame to skimp on the speaker.

LaYou’ll also need to be licensed to play music in a public place. This isn’t cheap but it’s not too expensive either. If you love this sort of thing it won’t be a problem and will pay you back big time.

All these things qualify as business expenditures and should be included in your tax return.

Move, groove and relax with yoga!

As you can see, it takes a bit of work to use music in your yoga sessions and do this well. But it can be very rewarding.  

One spin-off is that each lesson becomes unique, as the music will generate fresh ideas during the session. I get a lot of positive feedback from my students about the way I use music in my classes, and this is one of the things that sets Yoga Mind & Body Club apart from other local yoga classes in the area.

If you’d like to come move, groove and relax with us, check out our Classes page for our latest schedule and online booking.

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