In the mid-1990’s when I used to go to many many yoga classes and retreats, I had never attended even a single class with background music. So I never associated yoga with music. At the time two of my yoga friends asked me what music I played when I practiced at home. When I told them I didn’t play any, they accused me saying 'You purist!!'
When I started teaching in a gym in London soon after, the manager showed me how to use the music system. When I told her I didn’t need it, she wasn’t sure and said ‘ I don’t think people like it if you don’t play music.’
I taught there for over a year. It was reasonably well attended and the people didn’t seem to mind, but the absence of music might have put some people off. I never know.
I don’t attend yoga classes much these days but the last few classes I did, they all played music. It felt a little odd to start but I soon forgot about it. At one class particular, which was held in a beautifully converted church, I thought the music really enhanced the peaceful atmosphere.
So a few years ago I asked my students if they wanted me to play music. One person might have said yes, but the most said no, a few very strongly. This was to my great relief because I had no idea what sort of music to play, and didn’t fancy the idea spending hours making playlists.
Sometimes I go to people’s homes to teach privately. Then I don’t have the control. A few times I taught with music on. I think the students were the kind of music lovers who like to have music all the time, so perhaps they didn’t even think about turning it off. Again it felt a little bit strange, especially meditation to pop music, but apart from that it was fine.
Once someone had radio on (Radio 1?). I must say it was a little too distracting. I was going to mention about it after his initial few lessons, but it never happened. Maybe I should have insisted he turned radio off at least for the meditation.
In this January’s National Geographic I read about a yoga teacher in the U.S. She used to teach many classes in gyms and yoga studios, but one day she was told by one of her students that her playlist was not cool enough. This was the last straw for her. She packed up from the gyms and set up a yoga project to teach fire fighters and police officers, who put their lives on the front line.
So my yoga playlist? I think I will stick to my own breath and silence, which is cool enough for me. Or do you have any suggestions?
Please feel free to share.