I’ve heard it’s controversial whether to include music in a yoga class. Arguments are that it takes away from the focus of the poses or the meditative state. Or that we will trigger someone with a piece of music - it could bring back a difficult time in their life, or remind them of something that they’d rather forget.
I want to be sensitive to those who have experienced trauma in their life. And I believe that music, in addition to yoga, has the power to heal.
Music is powerful.
Music is fun. Music evokes a ton of emotion. Music reminds us (vividly) of our past.
Music can create a haunting feeling, a feeling of familiarity, or of nostalgia.
Music can change your mood in an instant. It can make you feel like you’re soaring to the highest heights or leave you with a pit in your stomach.
At least this is what it does to me. And I embrace it.
Isn’t yoga learning to be in our present state, and stay there, no matter what that state might be?
Yoga isn’t about learning to cut out all the noise and sit in peace and silence in order to feel better. Yoga is about feeling all the feels, and staying.
I have been in yoga classes before where I’ve cried because of the music playing. I remember being in a class during my teacher training (with one of my teachers, Renee LeBlanc), doing sun salutations with tears streaming down my face, as Ray Lamontagne’s “I Still Care for You” played over the speakers. I wasn’t exactly sure what had triggered it, because I wasn’t sure I had even heard the song before, but I knew it reminded me of a painful loss I gone through less than a year prior. But this musical experience wasn’t a bad one. Sure, I felt a rush of emotion. But I didn’t run - instead I found out what the song was. I needed to know.
I played that song countless times over the next months and cried each time I heard it. It helped me to release a lot of sadness, grief, and emotion that had been lodged inside my heart. (Maybe I had lodged it there in an effort to always have it pulled together, to appear strong, and to “make it through”. More on that another time…) Through diving into these emotions, I grew stronger in the end.
The bottom line is this:
Music heals. Yoga heals.
Music can release stuck emotions. Yoga can release stuck emotions (and a lot of muscular tension too).
I see the parallels so clearly in my own life, and I want to bring that to other people as well.
So, while many of my playlists are inspired by fun and good memories of childhood (check out Yoga Mixtape), some of my playlists have unique or mellow songs that, who knows, may strike a nerve for you.
I hope that you can embrace that. Cry on your mat if you need to. I’ll be there holding space for you, and maybe even offering a comforting hands-on assist to help you feel supported. You should never feel ashamed to surrender in the face of painful emotions. It’s that surrender that will lead you through your healing.
For those who disagree with me - I respect your opinion, and welcome it here in order to open a dialogue. But I won’t change my style. And I hope that in the process I’ll attract a tribe of people who feel the same way I do.