Yoga Without A Playlist: Yes It CAN Be Fun!

Shannon Brady
Yoga Without A Playlist: Yes It CAN Be Fun!

“Um, are you planning a Zumba class?” my bewildered boyfriend questioned as I took him through a yoga practice, accompanied by a new playlist. Clearly the funky beats were killing his flow. And, it turns out, my joy of teaching to music.

Another playlist attempt gone bust. Time to unplug already...

It didn’t start out this way. Cool tunes frequently drew me back to class as a beginning yoga student. Teachers who taught without music, or worse, played stuff I loathed were quickly skipped over for those with the badass mixes. The bigger the beats, the ‘badder’ my flow. After completing my teaching certification, I think I spent more time on iTunes than my mat, creating playlist after playlist to support whatever I had planned for the day: slow and melodic, fast and funky, inspiring lyrics, all instrumental, pop, reggae, ambient, you name it, I threw it in a playlist.

But recently, since teaching at a studio where most classes do without music, I’ve grown tremendously -- as a teacher and a student. Music vs. no music in class is a never-ending debate amongst yogis, but I’ve learned through my own experience, that both are A-OK. I still teach to music (at another studio), and find it immensely helpful on those days when I can barely drag my ass-ana out of bed.

However, if your Warrior II pose starts to wilt at the very thought of practicing in silence, consider the following:

1. We’re Yoga Teachers First

As much as I’d like to rock those cool monster headphones and spin the turntables as yogis get their groove on, my class just isn’t the place for that. Observing, assisting, cuing, pacing, and ensuring my students understand exactly what I’m asking of them comes first.

2. Distractions Limit Your Power

It’s hard enough to concentrate and stay in the moment with myriad to-do lists swirling around in our heads, and smart phones beeping just beyond the classroom door (you do leave the gadgets outside, don’t you good yogis?). Focusing on our breath is challenging enough without Katy Perry screaming out another roar.

3. Breath Is Music

I remember my first heated flow class without music. Thanks to an inspiring teacher who opted out of using a playlist, 50 of us yogis, mats meticulously lined up inches apart, synchronized our breath – creating an awesome, inspiring wave of sound that guided us through an entire 90 minutes. Prana equal life force energy. Tap into that in class and you’ll reach a whole new level.

4. One Playlist Does Not Fit All

I’ve learned, the hard way, that one yogi’s idea of musical bliss equals another student’s save-it-for-Zumba-class experience. Silence is something we can all find bliss in.

5. Silence Lets You Listen

To the teacher’s voice, and more importantly, to your inner teacher. No one wants to take a class were the teacher is putzing with the controls on the iPhone, struggling to balance the volume or find the right song. In a music-free class, you get to notice those moments when you can’t hear your breath. These are reminders to bring your head back into the room, and back off of poses too difficult to maintain strong, Ujjayi breath.

So try it yogis – practice without a playlist. You just might like it!