I don’t have an opinion regarding music playing in the background during yoga class. It doesn’t matter to me whether it’s there or not. (I do get uncomfortable when a pop song is played, though, because it can be distracting, especially if it’s a song I like.) But today I attended a Kundalini yoga workshop conducted by Karen Henson Jones at Bliss Yoga’s Greenhills branch where music and chanting were essential. The two-hour class was kind of familiar because my very first yoga teacher taught Kundalini yoga combined with flow. Diaphramic breathing, pranayama (spinal breathing), meditation and creative visualization were given equal attention and done after a 45-minute workout.
And then there was music — from the CD and us. The rhythms set the pace of our breathing as we chanted (or sang) along. This brought deep focus and pure enjoyment that I never thought I’d experience today! I have to admit I found some of the exercises strange at first but as I went along, I felt myself starting to relax and becoming lighter inside. It’s true: There are many benefits to playfulness and keeping an open mind when trying out something new. You just never know what you’ll discover!
I guess I understand why some yogis and yoginis are reluctant to include traditional music and chants into their practice. Chanting mantras in Sanskrit could be mistaken for a religious or even cultish (!) ritual, which, in my opinion, it is absolutely not. For me, chanting simply makes us more focused and, therefore, more aware and conscious during meditation. The vibrating sound of a long “om” allows us to stay in a meditative state and at the same time grounds us in reality because of what happens to us physically (i.e. our mouths form an “o,” our throats release air, our vocal chords vibrate, etc.). Again, we just need to be more open to new experiences and see where they lead us.
If you can plop your Pitbull CD into the player and rap along to it, I don’t see why you can’t play a Kundalini music disc and chant away.