Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What do you mean you can't do yoga to Beastie Boys?

Sun Salutation
 from http://www.fischerartfoto.com
I love yoga. There, I said it. I love yoga. I love doing crazy hard poses, and I love just lying there on the floor acting like you're dead. I love yoga.

What I don't always love is the music my instructors put during practice. Don't get me wrong--I understand that the roots of yoga are deep in the art and practice of meditation, so it makes sense that a lot of the music sounds suspiciously like something you would hear as background music in a nice restaurant (think: the Savoy, not Chili's).  The music is supposed to be soothing, something you can tune out with relative ease while you concentrate on getting your leg wrapped around your neck.  And that's all well and good, except that's not the kind of yoga that I enjoy.  I like something more invigorating for my sun salutations and flows in general.

If you are like me and you want some beats in your practice, you have a few options.

  1. If you're looking for a class to attend, check for words like flow, power or vinyasa in the class title. These classes tend to be more upbeat. If you're not big into meditation, you want to avoid words like relaxation, visualization, or gentle in the description.
  2. Before you sign up for a class, sit in so you can get a feel for the tempo of the class.  You may not be able to change the music your instructor plays, but if the class has a good flow going, and the tempo is good, you probably won't notice.
  3. If you have a home practice going, and you're working from a DVD or YouTube video, you can turn down the music and put on whatever you like.  This is my favorite thing to do, I even have specific playlists for a couple of my DVDs*. 
  4. If you have a home practice going and you're NOT working from a DVD or YouTube video (from a journal or maybe a book or  whatever), experiment with different songs to find what motivates you. For my money nothing pushes me through a Sun Salutation like So What'cha Want (Beastie Boys) cranked to full volume.
  5. No matter what kind of music you have on--make sure to match your movements to your breathing. A rule of thumb: if you are "crunching" your abs in a pose, breathe out to move into the pose. If you are stretching out your abs, breathe out to move into the pose.
Don't be afraid to experiment, but do keep in mind that if you are in a class, you probably should NOT be practicing with ear-buds firmly in your ear-holes. You need to be able to hear your instructor. Likewise, if you're overdubbing a DVD or video with your own music, make sure to keep the levels in balance so you can hear the video (at least for the first few times, if you know the video like the back of your hand, feel free to blast your music as loud as you like).

And most importantly, remember that even in a rigorous practice, you need some time to cool down and just lie on the floor like a rug. 


* if you are curious, here is one of my playlists I use with my DVDs:

  • So What'cha Want (Beastie Boys)
  • Mama Said Knock You Out (LL Cool J)
  • Christian Peace Prayer (Larisa Stow and Shakti Tribe)
  • Drive By (Train)
  • Titanium (David Guetta feat. Sia)
  • Lose Yourself (Eminem)
  • Viva La Vida (Coldplay)
    ----this is where the "cool down" sequence begins----
  • The Lord's Prayer (Laris stow and Shakti Tribe)
  • Breathe In Breathe Out (Mat Kearney)