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Stop The Pop! Re-Thinking Music & Yoga

Updated: Dec 11, 2021


As I am holding Warrior 2, activating my ujjayi breath, and attempting to practice pratyahara (sense withdrawal), Daddy Yankee and Camila Cabello come blaring through the speakers. “Havana oo-na-na, half of my heart is in Havana…”. Okay, Havana oo- no- no, no more. I thought, “When is this playlist going to be over?”. The lyrics became a distraction, the beat and frequency of the song acted as a stimulant, the volume was an auditory attack, and later, the lyrics became a mantra that my mind was repeating throughout the day. Maybe you’ve been there before, and if you’re like me, perhaps you even started wondering how your students received your playlists in class. While music choices are completely personal, playing loud songs (pop, rock, country, etc.) with lyrics can be a barrier to deepening your practice, cause mental distraction, and even harm.


Everyone has their own unique preference when it comes to music. Personally, I enjoy playing a mix of shamanic drums, downtempo, native American flutes, Solfeggio frequencies, and ambient Indian music in my classes. If I choose songs with lyrics, I choose music with sacred chanting. I find that this type of music helps students get into a focused flow without influencing their emotions like music with lyrics might do. As a yoga teacher, you have every right to construct playlists however you’d like, but there are some things to take into consideration when doing so. Yoga is an inner practice meant to calm the fluctuations of the mind (yogas chitta vritti nirodhah). Our culture constantly bombards us with stimulation in our everyday lives, and people who are drawn to yoga are typically looking to turn their minds off, feel grounded and connected, and come into balance. Are your music choices calming the mind or feeding it? To practice yoga means to not engage in harm (ahimsa), and if I’m being frank, Daddy Yankee yelling through the speakers while I attempt to find my drishti was quite abrasive. Music can be a great tool in a yoga class, or it can take away from the practice itself.


Sound has a profound impact on our energetic and emotional frequencies. Sound impacts our human systems, our vibrational fields, and the energies within ourselves. Our bodies and cells are a source of energy that vibrate at certain frequencies. When our vibrational frequency is exposed to certain vibrations of music or sound, they resonate together, which creates a new vibration in our cells. For example, music tuned to 440 hz (which is the universal tuning standard for most music you hear on the radio- hello country/rock/rap/pop top 40 songs) is known to cause anxiety and depression, whereas music tuned just slightly lower at 432 hz has healing benefits that slow the heart rate down. Moving through various asanas and syncing the movement with the breath puts the practitioner in a meditative state, which makes you more open to programming. For this reason, it is important to consider the music and lyrics that we are feeding our minds. Solfeggio frequencies are healing tones of sound that profoundly affect the subconscious mind and promote various aspects of mind-body health. For example, studies have shown that music tuned to 528 hz significantly reduces stress in the endocrine systems and autonomic nervous systems, reduces the toxic effects of ethanol, and increases cell life by 20 percent. These frequencies date back to ancient history and are the fundamental sounds chanted by the Gregorian monks and present throughout ancient Indian Sanskrit chants. There have been studies that have measured the rate of UV light absorption on DNA vials that were exposed to four kinds of music with different frequencies: Gregorian Chants, Sanskrit chants, classical, and rock. The results showed that the Gregorian and Sanskrit chants had the most positive, even healing effects by increasing UV light absorption between 5 to 9 percent. Classical music increased UV absorption by small amounts (no clinical significance) and rock music decreased UV light absorption, harming the DNA. As you can see, the quality of music has a major impact on our human systems and influences our emotional and physical well-being. Yoga is about deprogramming and purifying the mind, not feeding it with Westernized pop culture messages designed to keep you oppressed and depressed. Confucius said it best, “If one should desire to know whether a kingdom is well-governed, if its morals are good or bad, the quality of its music will furnish the answer”.


When I first started cleaning out my old playlists, it wasn’t before long that I lost interest in those catchy tunes that get your heart rate moving and harm your DNA. I noticed a major difference in my baseline feeling, my mind-body connection became stronger, I became more creative and balanced, and less distracted. I wasn’t unconsciously repeating lyrics in my head all day and creating unwanted neuropatterns. Although yoga is traditionally practiced without music, it can be a tool to help heal, guide, and flow in your practice. If you’re looking for something more upbeat, don’t be afraid to explore the rhythm of shamanic drums or ambient music. If you want something more soothing, try Solfeggio healing frequencies. When choosing songs, consider instrumental music with no words (or if you choose music with lyrics, sacred chants are great), always be mindful of the volume, and consider saving the mainstream music for your own personal practice. And lastly, know you don’t need music at all. There is nothing wrong with moving to the sound of your own breath and letting the inner sensations guide you.


References:

https://naturesoundretreat.com/solfeggio-frequency/

https://www.bettersleep.com/blog/science-behind-solfeggio-frequencies/

https://medium.com/illumination/how-to-heal-your-mind-and-body-with-powerful-sounds-c8ee64a1dbd


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