practicing heron pose in classBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed.

Is music generating enthusiasm in your classes? There is nothing quite as unsettling in a Yoga class as showing up for a Power Yoga class and having melodic new age music playing in the background, or attending a Yin Yoga class with hip hop music playing at a high enough volume that you can feel the reverberations through the floor boards. As a Yoga instructor, a very simple and straightforward way to generate enthusiasm in your classes is to choose appropriate musical selections that match and enhance the postures and breathing exercises through which you are guiding your students.

If you choose musical selections that are “at odds” with the sequence and pacing of Yoga postures, breathing exercises and meditation techniques that you are teaching in any given class, you may dampen your students’ initial enthusiasm for the class. For instance, if you are teaching a restorative evening class, and you are playing very upbeat, techno tracks on your iPod or stereo system, you run the risk of undermining the very state of relaxation that you are trying to create in your students.

On the other hand, if you are teaching a vigorous, flow-based Yoga class during an active part of the day, such as early morning, noon or early afternoon, and you play very soft, soothing, quiet music, you also run the risk of dampening your Yoga students’ enthusiasm and energy for the class. In India, traditional musicians are very adept at choosing appropriate melodies for certain times of the day and evening. Each raga is said to stimulate and balance the flow of prana, or life force energy, through the physical and emotional structures of the body and mind.

In this way, by matching a particular melody or raga to the time of day or evening, classical Indian musicians are able to enhance the balance and flow of energy, both within the listeners and between the listeners and the external environment. Different ragas are also said to evoke different emotional states of being. For instance, some ragas elicit a beautiful, melancholic longing, while other ragas generate energy, enthusiasm and buoyancy. Quieter ragas often help listeners to fall into a relaxed meditative state, as the mind’s chatter is attenuated by the soothing music.

As a professional Yoga teacher, you can use this ancient knowledge of how to match the tone, pace and sequence of the Yoga class you are teaching with the specific melodies and musical selections that you play during class. During some classes, you may also find it to be helpful to begin playing soothing music at the start of your class, and then increase the pace and tempo of the music you are playing as the class begins to peak in intensity. As the class begins to wind down and your Yoga students are practicing inversions, forward bends and other finishing postures, you may find it helpful to play tracks that are calming and lead your students to a state of quietude and relaxation.

During the most active and vigorous portion of your Yoga class, you may find it to be a nice change of pace to play contemporary musical selections by artists such as Michael Franti, Krishna Das, or even Bruce Springsteen! Although Bruce Springsteen’s music does not readily come to mind as the type of music one would hear in a Yoga class, sometimes playing traditional rock and roll songs is a great way to generate enthusiasm and energy during a vigorous flow of Power Yoga asanas.

There are also a number of beautiful recordings of ancient meditation mantras that help to quell the mind and support a state of meditation. By playing a 5-10 minute recording of one of these mantras, such as Om, Om Namah Shivaya, Guru Om, or So Ham, you will help your students to glide easily into meditation. By matching the rhythm of your Yoga class with the musical selections that you are playing, you will support your students in flowing through a sequence of Yoga postures, pranayama exercises and meditation practices in a seamless, non-verbal fashion.

Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York; where she specializes in writing articles that are 100% unique. She is currently accepting yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at: [email protected].

© Copyright 2015 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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