Personal Practice: Using Music

Some of us got together for dinner several days after training ended. A common theme was the difficulty of staying energized through personal practice. During teacher training we had 8 other bodies in a hot room (plus Paalu and Satya) to encourage us to push through the pain, exhaustion, sweat, fatigued muscles, and sleepiness. Now, everyday is an exercise of the mind and body to push us to our individual edges. Who will motivate me to do extra push-ups and crunches?

My solution has been to listen to music when I practice. I’ve always been especially attuned to sound and rhythm. Now that I don’t have the energy of other bodies practicing with me, I’ve created an audio substitute. The key, for me, is to have fun music, music that shuts my mind off and allows me to move in the moment. My favorite mix for losing mind is Paul Oakenfold’s Perfecto Presents Another World (circa 1999), disk 2. I had a gym instructor who used to play this in spin class. Maybe it’s a Pavlovian response, but whenever I hear the first seconds of this CD, my mind stops and I just fall into myself. Practice follows. Sometimes, it’s almost like Paalu is in the room twisting or urging me to go deeper and further into poses.

Many yoga classes I’ve taken play music. Unfortunately, it’s often the “relaxing” variety: slow, meditative and (for me) boring. This is not conducive to a vigorous, sweaty practice like ashtanga. When facing the choice between slow music and silence, I’d take silence. However, on mornings when I need an extra boost to practice, a little club music or rock and roll can do the trick. If you want to try music in your practice, think like a DJ. How will you energize yourself for 90 minutes?