Our world is a noisy place. We exist among conversations, loud engines, music, sirens, air filter machines, humming computers, ringtones, radios, barking dogs and constant chatter inside our heads. Silence is an elusive concept. So when the power went off in my office building last week, besides the darkness, the aftermath was a silence that juxtaposed the constant background noise that I hadn’t realized was there.
In yoga, I encourage my students to “let go of distracting thoughts,” and “quiet the mind.”
But how can the mind become quiet when the world is so noisy?
Therein lays the challenge. I constantly struggle to quiet the omnipresent chatter in my head. I do yoga as a tool to quiet my mind and I teach yoga to help others quiet their minds. Paradoxically I teach with a soundtrack playing in the background. Music is something that I always incorporated into my classes. Deva Premal, Wah!, Krishna Das. These musicians were my most regular attendees. They never missed a class and their voices and rhythms provided the ambiance for my classes. But is more external noise really the key to inner silence?
When the power was off and my office was silent for 25 minutes, I had the time to reflect on the value of silence. I pondered why I play music during yoga classes.
Who was it for? Did my students relate to it? Did it assist them to quiet their minds, as I was constantly reminding them to do? Doubtful. It occurred to me that I was playing the music for myself. The music was a comfort for me in case I couldn’t think of anything to say. It was a buffer between awkward silence and valuable commentary from me.
So I turned off the music. The relief of not having to design playlists for every class was a wonderful byproduct of my new music-free yoga classes. More importantly, I noticed my students. When I played music, I wasn’t listening to my students. I was often listening to the music, wondering if it was too loud, too fast…did the students like the song? But none of that has anything to do with yoga and my teaching wasn’t effective with the distraction of a playlist.
Without the music, I am able to listen to the pranayama in the room and focus on how students are responding to my verbal cues. I am able to tune into how students are responding to my teaching and subsequently teach poses and sequences that cater to what my students need.
It is my intention to foster an environment where dynamic and valuable yoga practice can take place. An environment where students can silence the chatter, tune out of the world and achieve an internal focus and respect. Turning off the music is my small contribution towards finding silence of mind, awareness of breath and steadiness of body.
Join me on the mat for music-less but pranayama-rich power yoga.
Mondays and Wednesdays at 7pm
Tuesdays at noon.