Music & Yoga

Music & Yoga

I have always played background music during my Dru Yoga lessons, and it came as a bit of surprise when I was recently reminded that not all yoga teachers do so. A few months ago, I started teaching two yoga classes for a local healthcare organization. The groups existed already. The participants knew nothing about me or Dru yoga. They responded positively to the music right away. It was new for them: music together with yoga. It has made me ask myself what it is that’s so special about music and why I feel it’s an essential part of my lessons.

The answer begins in Wales during my Dru yoga teacher training course. When I followed the training more than a decade ago, there was a sound man in a small room elevated above the yoga studio.  His arrival and departures behind the curtain were barely noticeable. Likewise, the music he played was never distracting.  He simply knew the perfect background music for every aspect of the lesson: warming up, EBRs and the deep relaxations. A whole new world of sound opened up for me: flowing water, flutes, Tibetan bells, and rhythmic drums.

The music got us moving and were calming as well. Sometimes we would go for walks in a beautiful rocky terrain. One time the senior tutor spontaneously began singing a mantra. It literally stopped me in my tracks. It was like the trees and the birds were singing with her.

We teachers in training took notes, asked the sound man and teachers for advice, and shared our favorites with one another. We looked forward to the day when we could use this music in our own lessons.This enthusiastic exchange continues to this day.  No matter where you are in the world, Dru workshops, conferences, teacher trainings, and master classes almost always have a person who creates a musical background and records the session. Often it’s possible to purchase these recordings.

Recently I was listening to one such recording from my meditation teacher training course here in the Netherlands. It was a beautiful meditation on light and during a quiet moment the teacher silently picked up his guitar and began singing. It felt divine. I think it’s fair to say that for the senior tutors of Dru, playing, making and sharing music fits perfectly with being a yogi.
“It is as though music reaches that subtle threshold within us where
the soul dovetails with the eternal.”

This quote comes from the book Divine Beauty by an Irish poet/writer/philosopher John O’Donohue. I like to think that perhaps the music I play in my yoga classes dovetails--joins us--with the eternal.  When people comment on how much they like certain songs, maybe it’s because music helps them feel connected to who they are and where they feel at home.

Of course practicing yoga without music can also be joyful. And I should add that playing music during a yoga class can definitely go wrong. Anyone in my yoga groups knows that sometimes the music is too loud or too soft.  Adjustments are unavoidable. A new Bluetooth portable speaker was recently the source of much racket in my Thursday-night group.  I didn’t do my homework and realized too late that this attractively designed speaker had the annoying habit of announcing all its tricks: “Charging, paired, powering off.” To my horror, these announcements sometimes occurred during the deep relaxation!

But despite the challenges, I will persist in using music during my lessons because I think the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. I bought a new speaker and will enthusiastically keep finding new music. After all, if music makes us feel more energetic, or calms our breathing, or dovetails with the divine, then I say use it!

For those now curious about what music it is that I play in my classes, I have compiled a list of some favorite CDs.

The first four are musicians from Dru and can only be purchased from their online shop.

Akasha                Jane Saraswati Clapham & Greg Carlin
Elements             Jolanda Jonker & Joris Vincken
Vayu                    Jolanda Jonker & Joris Vincken
Colours of Life   Savitri MacCuish  & Jolanda Jonker

These last CDs can be purchased online and most also can be found on Spotify.

  • Yoga World: Music for your Practice        various artists
  • In Unity               Tim Wheater, David Lord
  • Eckhart Tolle’s  Music to quiet the mind  various artists
  • In Concert           Deval Premal & Miten with  Manose
  • Divenire               Ludovico Einaudi

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