One could easily make a case for or against the roll of music in yoga practice.  On the one hand music/sound has played an intimate roll in the history of yoga (particularly in the nada and bhakti yoga traditions).  On the other hand the power of sound can unduly influence the environment and mind of the practitioner, distracting one from the immediate perceivable reality.

Without going into too many details, I have been privy to both ends of the spectrum; having experienced the acute and transformational power of sound, largely from classically based Indian genres, to having my nadies and vritties accosted by the likes of Michael Jackson, Def Leopard, and Huey Lewis.  Rock On.

The challenge with music is that it is highly personal. What may be one woman’s bliss may be another man’s hell.  From a contemplative perspective, music distorts one’s ability to be present to the immediate sensations and movements of the breath and body –yoga asana as meditation.

I have a strong contemplative streak, and rarely teach or practice with music. When I do so, I choose ambient sounds that subtly inform the background.  I also play music because it forces me out of my box a bit and brings some color to the austere parts of my personality.

Yoga and many other spiritual traditions have recognized the inborn power of sound in transforming consciousness. Nada Yoga, the yoga of sound, has developed a wide variety of techniques to expand consciousness through the medium of sound. Mantras, chanting and deep-listening help to create a ritualistic container to evoke the sacred.  According to Nada Yoga there are four essential layers to the evolutionary sound current:

Vaikhari:

Gross audible sound.
Pashyanti: Subtle sound-current heard inside the mind body organism. Examples include audible hearing the nervous system, the sound of crickets, kettle drums, a waterfall and many other subtle sounds.

Madhyama:

Sound as light.

Paranada:

Beyond all sound.

In many traditions throughout the world, sound is considered one of the first evolute of creation.  In other words, certain vibrational frequencies precede and inform the manifest realm that most of us inhabit.  As such, sound holds the potential to influence our being on multiple layers.  Sound is unique to our sensory experience in that it is very tangible and readily experienced (through language, nature and song) and at the same time its form is invisible, bridging into unseen dimensions.

How long could you survive without eating?  What about drinking?  How long could you go without breathing?

Respiration is probably the most important source of nourishment we receive and one of the most under recognized or utilized. Is it possible that, by modifying our breathing pattern, we can dramatically increase or health in the same way that changing our diet or environment influences our state of well being?  The short answer, absolutely.

In no other form of activity is there a greater emphasis placed on the breath than in yoga.  Not only to the postures bring tone and flexibility to the body, but also increase the elasticity of the rib cage, remove congestion from the diaphragm and increase the supply of