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Why is Music so important in our Yoga Practice?

October 7, 2014

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Hey Yogi’s, we get asked time and time again about our studio and the music we play during your practice. We thought it would be fun to ask one of our trainers Tanya Hardison for a quickie on what motivates her to play during her sessions! Meet Ms. Tanya and her playlist thoughts.

Why do you think Music is SO important when it comes to teaching Yoga? Music is important in yoga mainly to set an emotional tone. Whether we are consciously aware of it or not, we are affected physically, spiritually and mentally by the sounds we hear. For example, a driving beat can excite the senses, pushing us emotionally into motion. Alternately, soothing sounds or a slow mantra can ease the mind and body to relax, letting the mind’s eye turn inward. Also, music can help people to let the mental chatter go, deepening their practice.  

How much time do you spend working on your flow sequence and music compliments. I have several playlists that I created for my classes and it depends on the time of day and type of class as to which one I use. Typically I spend about 3-4 hours putting together a playlist for a particular type of flow. It takes time to find the right tempos, and songs that will flow into each other without distracting students. I listen for the transition from song to song a few times then listen to the whole set to make sure it creates just the right energy. It has to start soft and smooth without distracting while students get calm, come into their bodies, and let their stories go. Then it has to gear up gently so that as the body warms up the beat picks up in tempo. If its a high intensity class then it needs to drive hard through the majority, then gradually soften in tone and tempo. I usually include simple sounds or a mantra at the end for savasana. My goal is to let people use the music and sounds to help deepen the experience of becoming one with the true self by going deep inside and far out of themselves all at the same time.

Where do you get your inspiration from (when putting your tunes together)? I have a background as a singer/songwriter so my inspirations are mostly from all different kinds of music from various times in my life. I love creating playlists from songs that helped me grow in the past. Also, I often hear a song on the radio or while out with friends, and I think, “Wow! This would be a great song to do some yoga to?” I have created a few playlists completely around one song, I guess so I could relive that catharsis and healing.

What are your favorite resources for music ideas and flows. Online music applications like Spotify and Pandora are really great for getting ideas since they offer suggestions for similar artists. I started out creating playlists on iTunes from my music collection, but my tastes expanded as I created more playlists and I found I was spending too much. So I switched pretty exclusively to Spotify. In fact, most of my playlists are on Spotify now and a few are public. The yoga flows that I use come from the music usually, but as I said, the music I select comes from the vibe of the class, time of day… pretty much the moment itself.

What artist inspire you right now? My go-to playlists include a lot of Massive Attack, Thievery Corporation and MC Yogi. Lately, though, I’m really into Beats Antique. Its a funky multi-instrument craziness that can really inspire a high intensity flow. There aren’t any lyrics just these sounds and driving beats. I think a lot of their music should be danced to really, but a yoga flow is like a dance I suppose. I also really like Deva Premal for mantras and soothing sounds. Also, I can’t help but still look back to old favorites of mine from the past like Enigma, Radiohead and Dead Can Dance. They inspired me 20 years ago and they really haven’t stopped.

Give me a few playlist that give you a good sweat and work you out mentally. Definitely my Beats Antique playlist. Or the one that is mostly all Enigma remixes. I like my 60’s/70’s rock and roll playlist a lot too, but the Stones, Who, Floyd and Zeppelin are so iconic I keep wanting to sing along, so it removes me from my practice. But occasionally you just have to dance and sing during yoga!!!

Favorite Yoga Poses? Why? This is a tough question. I don’t know that I have favorites anymore. All the poses and flows create different energy movements in the body and challenge us to let go of resistance in different ways. I used to have favorites, then they changed as i learned to appreciate the challenges. All that being said, I’ll just list off a few poses that come to mind that I like to shoot for in classes: Half-moon, Flying running man, warrior 2, warrior 3, revolved triangle, bird of paradise, head stands… Yeah I really could go on and on. All these poses I listed really drive home the idea that yoga is a practice, that you’re always growing in strength and flexibility and there is no perfecting a pose, because there is always some where else you can go with it to create a new challenge. To be honest, now that i think about it, I’d have to say Savasana (corpse pose) is most likely my favorite. The challenge in being still, letting your body and mind be completely relaxed and yet present… this can be the hardest pose of all, maybe the most rewarding.

V12 Yoga Studio Photo: Nikki Greer

V12 Yoga Studio
Photo: Nikki Greer

Love and Light, Tanya

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