Music can have a powerful effect on our mood, mindset, and overall yoga and meditation experience. Choosing the right music for your practice is an important way to enhance and deepen it. Whether you’re flowing through vinyasa sequences or sitting in silent meditation, the right music can help transport you into a calm, focused state. When selecting music for yoga and meditation, consider the pace, instruments used, nature sounds, chants, emotional resonance, and variety. Curate playlists that evoke different moods so you can match the music to your desired state of mind. With the proper musical accompaniment, your yoga and meditation practice will become even more rewarding.
Consider the Pace and Rhythm
An important starting point for choosing suitable music is considering its pace and rhythm. Faster paced music with strong rhythmic pulses are great for vigorous yoga styles like power yoga or Ashtanga that move quickly between poses. The music helps fuel and drive the movement. Slower paced, gentle music is better suited for restorative yoga, cooling down, or seated meditation. The music should help establish the pace and rhythm you want to flow with in your practice instead of feeling disjointed or out of sync.
Aim for music with a steady, even rhythm when holding poses for long periods. Songs with too much variety or changes in the rhythm can be distracting. Having a steady, grounded rhythm provides stability in the posture. It allows you to turn inward and focus without being pulled out of the pose by varying musical elements.
Choose Instrumental Over Lyrical
Lyrics can be very distracting and pull your attention outward during yoga and meditation. The words and meanings engage the mind making it harder to direct attention inward. Instrumental music without words allows the music to fade into the background. The instruments can add texture and dynamic layers that punctuate the movements and moments of stillness without actively engaging the mind the way lyrics do.
Some classic instruments used in yoga and meditation music include piano, acoustic guitar, flute, sitar, tampura, and singing bowls. The instrumental qualities take precedence over catchy melodies or a song structure. The simple instrumentation provides an unobtrusive bed of sound for the practice without overpowering it.
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Stick to Natural Sounds
Incorporating nature sounds into yoga and meditation music can have profoundly relaxing and centering effects. Flowing water, ocean waves, rainfall, birds chirping, and wind rustling all connect us to the natural world. These instruments of nature recalibrate our nervous system and remind of our place within the greater ecology of life.
Using recorded natural sounds or instruments that evoke nature like wind chimes, rain sticks, or thunder drums can enhance the music’s transportive qualities. The familiar, organic nature sounds ground the music in a primal landscape that our deepest consciousness intuitively recognizes and responds to through aeons of evolution.
Match the Music to the Poses or Practice
Creating targeted playlists that map different music to different yoga sequences and meditation techniques ensures the music always complements the practice instead of working against it. Here are some suggestions:
- For sun salutations, use music with a steady, cyclic rhythm and gradually building dynamics to mirror the flowing, surging sequence of poses.
- For balancing postures, choose calm, gently buoyant music to help cultivate focused, patient concentration.
- For backbends, pick songs with big, uplifting crescendos to energize and animate the expansive opening of the posture sequence.
- For savasana, put on serenely hypnotic music that promotes total calm, stillness, and surrender.
- For seated meditation, very sparse, minimalist music lets the silence between notes become part of the composition to fully quiet and turn attention inward.
Use Chants and Mantras
Spiritually or emotionally resonant vocals can add powerful mind-focusing qualities through the practice of kirtan (call-and-response chanting), mantras (sacred syllable repetition), or devotional songs.
Repetitive chanting directs all mental faculties towards the vibration and intention of the vocalizations as they circulate through the consciousness. This singular focus quiets external thoughts and distractions. The meaning or intention imbued in the words/syllables shifts energy and mindset in specific directions depending on the desired outcome of the practice. Common mantras like Om, Om Namah Shivaya, and Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu carry strong spiritual meaning that chanting during yoga or meditation channels through voice and vibration.
Find Music that Evokes Emotion
Music that touches us emotionally and moves our heart has a magical way of opening inner spaces that allow yoga and meditation to penetrate deeper within. Certain songs or instruments can trigger emotional memories, lived experiences, or future possibilities that transport our consciousness to those feelings and states of being. Following where the music leads us emotionally creates opportunities for catharsis, excitement, nostalgia, tranquility, serenity, or exaltation.
Pay attention to which specific songs or musical motifs consistently spark certain emotions for you personally. Then curate playlists with those emotional activators specifically for yoga and meditation when you want to access those feeling states to amplify or enrich your practice. This could include childhood songs that provoke nostalgia, nature sounds that evoke tranquility, love songs that summon affection, etc.
Create Playlists for Different Moods
Having a variety of playlists set to different moods, intensities, and durations lets you easily customize sessions to your needs in the moment. Tailoring musical accompaniment to your present state of mind and energy level allows the music to elevate and optimize rather than conflict with it.
Some helpful playlists to create include: centering/calming, energizing/motivating, soft/gentle, ambient/atmospheric, spiritual/conscious, and natural sounds. Label playlists by pace (beats per minute), primary mood, or practice style so you can quickly identify one suitable to match what you want out of a given session before pressing play. Get in the habit of curating an ongoing collection of versatile playlists to have on hand when needed.
Use a Mix of Old and New
While personal music taste plays a part, try mixing up both older, more traditional style yoga and meditation music along with modern interpretations incorporating current trends and recording technology. Strike a balance blending the wisdom of established compositional frameworks that have proven effective over generations with new arrangements pushing creative boundaries by talented contemporary artists.
By combining the familiarity of classic Indian ragas, kirtan call-and-response, extended drones and rhythmic grooves with fresh experimental upgrades using ambient electronica, lush production, and global influences, the music stays rooted yet continues progressing. Honoring foundational frameworks while allowing for novel upgrades prevents stagnation. An intelligent intermixing provides needed anchors along with compelling inspiration to keep deepening your practice.
Coach Kirill’s advice:
Making mindful music choices is key for crafting rich yoga and meditation experiences. Consider the pace, instruments, inclusion of nature sounds, chants/mantras, emotional qualities, tailored playlists, and mixing old with new. Music and inner practice interweave vibrational threads through consciousness to awaken inner truths. Curate music collections with care and attention to detail so your playlists always hit the right groove. With a vibrationally attuned soundtrack guiding your yoga and meditation journey, you’ll uncover deeper dimensions of mind-body harmony and inner wisdom.