We have all experienced the profound effect that music can have on a situation; being brought back unexpectedly from the edge of total relaxation during asana practice by the change in pace of a cd. Each of us has so many memories associated with music: that song that always reminds us of summer, or of a heart wrenching relationship, and what would horror movies be without the music? There is no doubt that music is an important part of our cultures. Imagine a hockey game with no rock anthems to pump the crowd up. Imagine camping by the ocean without the melody of crashing waves lulling you to sleep. Imagine life without music!!

In the first of a series of articles designed to help you explore yoga further, we have asked 4 yoga teachers to share with us the impact of music on their yoga practice. Fiona Stang, Julian Deck, Wade Imre Morissette and James Nicholson have all taken the time to share with me their thoughts on music and yoga.

Music during practice? Compliment or Distraction?

While all 4 teachers use music in their yoga practice the amount of music varies. James uses quiet music during all his classes, while Fiona and Julien use music only during the early stages of their morning Mysore classes until the ujjayi breathing of the students creates a similar energy to the music, then they turn the music off. Wade uses a combination of music, silence and japa or bhakti yoga (where Sanskrit songs are sung over and over again to create energy and focus attention).

power yoga instructor, james nicholson

"Yoga is like music- the rhythm of the body, the melody of
the mind, and harmony of
the soul, create the
symphony of life.

BKS Iyengar

All four teachers agree that music can be very influential in setting the tone for a class and choose their selections carefully. They all agree that using both vocal and instrumental pieces keeps things interesting. James suggests that it is easy to have music become just one more distraction; in our own practice we have to decide what is going to help us focus and energize our atmosphere without taking over our mental space. Some good suggestions are listed below.

Using the right music in your practice can help to focus your mind and create a positive energy to motivate you on days where you’re finding it hard to get into your yoga groove. Experiment to find out what works for you, ask your teacher what their favorite CD’s to practice with are, or find out the title and artist of your favorite CD’s that they play in classes. See whether music can bring you deeper into your practice!

The Reading List:

In conclusion I asked these teachers if they could pass on their top 3 books on yoga (the ‘must reads’). For beginners Wade suggested: The Heart of Yoga (TKV Desikachar), Light on You (BKS Iyengar), the Breathing Book (Donna Fahri). James also recommends Light on You (BKS Iyengar), along with Ashtanga Yoga: the Practice Manual (David Swenson) and How to use Yoga by Mira Mehta. Fiona and Julien suggest: Yoga Mala (Sri K Pattabhi Jois), Jivamukti Yoga(Sharon Gannon and David Life) and for deeper philosophy and of Sri Aurobindo’s books.

For Your Eyes and Ears - Local Yoga Instructors Recommend:
Fiona and Julian teach Ashtanga yoga at City Yoga (4th and Arbutus) and Julien also teaches at Semperviva (Broadway and Trafalgar).
Wade teaches Hatha, Power, Pheonix Rising yoga therapy, and seniors chair yoga at Shanti Yoga (4th and Alma)
James teaches Power yoga at the Lonsdale Rec Center (23rd and Lonsdale) and at the Kits House (7th and Vine)
for Your Ears
David Stringer
Planet Yoga (another compilation),
Krishna Das
DJ Cheb
Richard Tyler
Deva Premal,
the Karma Collection,
Mystic Grooves,
David Stringer,
Steve Halpern, Café del Mar, Afro Celt Sect, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
and Peter Gabriel
James has gone so far as to list in detail all the music that he plays in his classes. Feel free to browse his favorite yoga class suitable selections at vancouverpoweryoga.com/songs.html
The "Must Reads"

Yoga Mala (Sri K Pattabhi Jois),

Jivamukti Yoga(Sharon Gannon and David Life)

any of Sri Aurobindo’s books

The Heart of Yoga (TKV Desikachar),

Light on Yoga (BKS Iyengar),

the Breathing Book (Donna Fahri)

Light on Yoga (BKS Iyengar),

Ashtanga Yoga: the Practice Manual (David Swenson),

How to use Yoga by Mira Mehta