Have you noticed that yoga seems synonymous with many things in our minds? Take a look at the plethora of advertisements bombarding our eyes: you see yoga promoting crackers, water, food, tea, clothes, and even cars. Yoga summons images of happiness, lightness, purity and all things good. People bring all sorts of expectations even to class - yoga will make them stronger, more flexible, calmer, and help them find enlightment. They come to a classroom expecting hushed voices, dimmed lights, and the sounds of ethereal chanting in the background.
But...perhaps this is not always so. Mayhap you’ve noticed in some classes there is no music. Where did it go? There is always music in yoga class. That’s a Rule!
Music is really a personal call for the instructor and it may be based on how they were taught or the dictates of the yogic tradition they teach. For example, in a traditional Ashtanga session, there would be no music. Your breath is the song you follow. You want to be able to hear the sound of each inhale and each exhale. You want to be focusing on the quality of the breath, the subtle work of the bandhas, the internal alignment of your muscles and bones, not the groovy Deval Primal or Krishna Das song grooving in the front of the room. Even the instructors voice becomes a distant second or third to what you need to be paying attention to inside of yourself. You let the practice become a moving meditation.
Another example would be a traditional Iyengar session, where you would be focusing even more on the voice of the instructor as they move you further into each pose, again, working on the subtle body alignment.
And some instructors just don’t like competing against a melodic background, feeling like they are shouting to be heard. It all becomes a cacophony of noise that distracts not only the teacher but the student as well. Some students find music a distraction, desiring only to have an hour of relative quiet before they are plunged back into the chaos of the day.
It has been noted, accurately I like to think, that we spend our lives surrounded by noise - our families, office mates, cell phones, i-pods, radios, CDs, TV’s. We like to talk, we like to wrap ourselves in sound. However, our brain craves quiet. It desires moments of stillness. So when you next come to a yoga class and the instructor turns off the music, allow yourself to sink further into the silence and give your mind a much needed break.