Setting the Tone: 5 Ways Music Shifts Your Mindstate in a Yoga Class

Samy Mattei
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Yoga music feeds the sacred space that yogis seek.
 
It creates that internal stillness that’s found through movement. Movement that is cadenced by the humming sound of hallowed language . . . all while your breath is in tempo with mesmerizing music.
 
This is the moment we find ourselves in true bliss.
 
There’s something special that resides – unspoken and unparalleled – when we experience a true sense of union in our yoga practice. It’s the sweet place where we find freedom from our mental chatter (chitta vritti), deep connection to our bodies, and cultivation of that ooey-gooey life force energy known as prana.
 
As a yoga instructor, I witness the power of sound transforming yoga practices firsthand.
 

Nada Yoga: The Original Yoga Music

There is a yogic philosophy called Nada Yoga, which translates from Sanskrit as “union through sound vibration.” Nada is vibrational frequency and sacred energy that connects our internal self to our external self.
 
Sound is a unique sensory experience because it is both tangible (through words, music, and sound) and also an invisible energy that can be felt within.
 

Music is, in its very essence, yoga – it “yokes” us together.

 
How else could we explain that tingly feeling we get when we listen to a moving song or are reminded of a distant memory from a long-lost lullaby? There’s something both physical and metaphysical that shifts inside us through the power of music.
 
We explore Nada through many different yogic modalities. We experiment with mantras to liberate our minds, chants to attune gross-subtle connection, and inner-listening to cultivate spirituality.
 
In a modernized context, I believe that the mindful selection of music has the capacity to create yet another ritualistic channel to reach yoga bliss.
 
 

Here Are 5 Ways Yoga Music Shifts Our Mindstate During Our Yoga Practice

 
 

1. Yoga Music Sets Our Mood

When we hear music, it influences and “up-levels” our emotional state. For instance, when we hear an upbeat song with a fast rhythm, we’re suddenly inspired to move more fervently (even if we’re sweaty and exhausted).
 
Uptempo music helps us to take in more oxygen because we naturally connect with the rhythm and dig a little deeper into our reserves of strength – both physically and mentally.
 
Studies show that we even begin releasing hormones like dopamine before the “beat drops.”
 
You know what I’m talking about – that goosebump goodness on the ride up to the musical climax. Talk about an eargasm!
 

2. Yoga Music Settles Our Nervous System

On the other hand, soothing and slow music helps reduce anxiety and allow our bodies to relax, which in turn helps produce natural chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin that leave us feeling calm, content and connected.
 
Music assists in lowering the “stress stuff,” including heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, and cortisol (the “stress hormone”). Our parasympathetic nervous system – the “rest and digest” mode – is reestablished through harmonious, intentional music.
 
In a world that constantly bombards us with stimulation and stressors, this is a really beautiful way to return to hOMeostasis.
 

 
 

3. Music Supports Our Health

There is an increasingly apparent relationship between music and health: music may boost our immunity and support cell growth that protects against pathogens. And because music combats stress, our body responds with better digestion, energy levels, circulation, respiration, and even brain development.
 
Music rhythm even shifts our brain chemistry so that we release certain chemicals that can lead to overall wellness in muscle tone, mood, memory, metabolism, and beyond.
 

4. Music Sparks Connection

Music is the universal language. As long as human beings have been on this planet, we have had a relationship to rhythm. Across the world, sound is viewed as a community connector, personal healer, and artful expression.
 
The fact that people gather together who may otherwise have nothing in common, to listen to the same sound and be influenced in a similar way both physically and energetically, shows that music is a common thread that weaves between us all.
 
In a yoga class, music helps us clear our minds so we can be more present with ourselves and with one another. It sways the way we move and breathe together. Music is, in its very essence, yoga – it “yokes” us together.
 

5. Yoga Music Sends Us Into “Flow”

In a Vinyasa flow class, the guidance focuses on linking breath with movement, which I firmly believe is shaped by sound: whether that be the sound of breath, cueing, or musical soundscape. Nada helps us drop into mindful meditation through movement, truly surrendering into flow.
 
 

Use Yoga Music to Shake Things Up

I do not think that music is the most important aspect of a yoga class. In fact, I don’t stand here to say it’s entirely about music, or breath, or alignment, or any one thing. It’s actually a beautiful blend of many components that catalyzes a state of true bliss.
 
I am, however, saying that sound shakes things up – channeling our prana, directing the relationship between breath and body, calibrating the body’s natural state of wellbeing, and alchemizing our flow. So, at the end, we may lay on our mats in the resonance of sacred, sweet sound.
 
Yoga and music simply work together.

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Samy Mattei

Samy is a people lover, soul stirrer, magic believer, smile setter, love spreader, and yoga teacher. She brings an intentional and fun-filled experience to her classes with high-vibin' music, creative movement and a sprinkle of what she likes to call 'yoga magic.' She aspires to create a community of inclusion, wellness and connection. Samy also specializes in teaching special populations (including children's and adaptive yoga).

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