I LOVE music. Always have done since I was little. One of my earliest memories is being transported by my father’s classical music collection. I learnt piano from the age of 7 through to 16 and gave that up to be a rock blues guitarist with dreams of making the big time. I was going to be the new Eric Clapton or Stevie Ray Vaughan.
But that of course never happened. I became Neal Ghoshal instead - probably better that way! And I have formed an ongoing, absolute love of music and of the guitar - I play every day and it never fails to bring me joy.
Yoga is my other love. I regularly join the two together in my own practice and in my classes you will often hear me playing music to support the Yoga. Sometimes I may even bring my guitar and play live for people.
I am constantly astonished by music. By the endless creativity of musicians to produce beautiful, moving, wild rhythms, melody and harmony. I could never imagine life without it. What a blessing music is in our lives!
Music and Yoga
Some Yoga styles and teachers suggest that we should not play music in class - it activates the mind, can distract the mind from being in the body, from quietening the mind which is perhaps one of the reasons for practicing.
Whilst I can agree to some extent, I believe, and it has also been my experience, that well-chosen music can greatly enhance my Yoga practice. Music can bring me into my flow. It can support me diving into my body awareness with a greater curiosity and openness.
Let’s say my practice is about the skeletal system, about my bones. I can choose music that has resonance with my bones e.g. perhaps some light African drumming (I love the word resonance!).
If my practice is about finding flow, finding the support of my fluid body, I can play music which enhances this experience, which encourages me to move and roll, spiral and ripple through my Yoga in waves of motion. Other music may help quieten the thinking mind, anchoring the wandering mind to be present.
Choose your music well
It’s all in the particular choice of music we make. The sequence of the tracks, the pace of the beat, the spaces between the sounds, the volume we play at and so on. I’m not a big fan of playing in music in Yoga just as background. It needs to have a purpose. Everything that happens in a Yoga teaching space should be there for a reason.
I enjoyed reading this article from The Yoga Nomads: How to Create the Perfect Yoga Music Playlist >>
Some useful points made, especially the Things to consider when creating a Yoga playlist - the time of the day, the audience, class length, the environment, the mood you wish to create, what your class theme is etc.
One thing to note - these days I rarely play music in Savasana (the end relaxation section of a class), as I feel it is important to have tranquil time for this part of a practice. I see Savasana rather like a settling meditation, moving us towards a relative stillness, and unless the music is very well chosen it may take us away from this quiet presence. Having said that, my colleague Karla Brodie, at the Contemporary Yoga Centre, has some truly beautiful crystal bowls that she’ll play during Savasana or Restorative Yoga sessions - soothing sounds which many find very enjoyable during their relaxation, and encourage them to be present.
I am often asked what the music was I was playing in class. To help you find some suggestions I have put together a couple of Spotify playlists below, with more to come. It’s best to be logged in to Spotify (it’s free) to listen to the full tracks, or have the Spotify app open on your phone or tablet.
This first list is about creating different kinds of flow. The tracks are in no particular order - it’s simply a collection of music I like to flow to - a resource to inspire you to seek out similar artists or tracks to support your practice.
Below is a list of music which may move us towards relative stillness. There is still movement, but it’s slow and creates a different mood.
A couple of beautiful playlists from Karla
Gentle Movement and Rest
Restorative Yoga Playlist
In addition to playlists, here are also some suggestions around what to play your music through. Many studios will have their own sound system in place, in which case it’s easy enough to connect your phone to. I also have a few suggestions around the best portable Bluetooth speaker for sound quality and ease of use. I bought a new one recently after some research - here are my recommendations at this point in time.
Bose Soundlink Revolve / Revolve Plus
Brilliant sound and volume - though somewhat more expensive. I’m not regretting spending extra though as I do love the sound, and I use it heaps. The Revolve Plus is bigger, heavier, but pumps out more volume for the larger spaces.
UE BOOM 3 Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Cheaper than Bose, but still a great sound. Fully waterproof. One of the most popular speakers available.
JBL Xtreme Portable Bluetooth Speaker
JBL has a great reputation, with good volume.
My recommendation - get yourself along to a shop that sells all three and test them out yourself. Enjoy!