Do you know this feeling deep inside your heart? When a good song plays no one stays seated, as soon as an emotional D-moll song plays no eye stays dry. Music, rhythm, it captivates the heart and carries you away into its beautiful world full of colors; A movement of your heart that tries to pick up the beat of the music for only a split second. Now what does this have so do with yoga?
Yoga is harmony, yoga is expression, yoga is breath, yoga is flow, yoga is opening your heart and space. The beat of a song is the steady breath in yoga. Expression can find its way into the yogic practice as well as every twist opens up a little more space for your creativity to blossom. “Sthira sukham asanam”1 This shall be found in every posture you do, this comfort in steady poses, just like the feeling that you get when singing along to a song or you play along to it on your favorite instrument. No unnecessary strain, no harmful intensions towards yourself, no judgement. Yoga is art, the art should not have ego. Ego makes us competitive always searching for more. Art shall be an expression of a momentary emotional state that just needs to come out. We need to listen to our body. A musician forcefully singing and writing music might get the picture perfect chords and tunes, but this art will be empty. Where is the heart? Where is the breath? Each way of communication, may it be verbal or non-verbal, has a certain expression in how it comes to life. Do you know this moment when you listen to a song for the first time and you think to yourself: “No other note may have followed the previous one except for this one, no other word may have followed. This is exactly as this message should be conveyed”. Now back to yoga. When I am in a flow, there are certain poses and combination of poses that fit my personal needs. They will magically align with your breath leaving you in the beautiful state of your personal song and beat created by your constant inhalation and exhalation. This is your personal way to do it. It is for your needs only. Only you can hear this song of yogic breath inside your head. It is especially for you, not to be judged by anyone else. Not comparable.
There is another reason why according to my personal opinion every musician, dancer and singer should try yoga. What role does music play in your life? Sometimes it makes you forget what you feel inside. Good or bad. You let it go. Nothing you have in this world that causes happiness or sadness can be taken with you when you die. Music prepares us to look at our soul. It can have a cathartic effect on you. Asanas do the same when practiced without ego according to your personal needs. They prepare the body to sit in absolute stillness for a long time when meditating. This connects us to our soul. It doesn’t matter which religion you belong to or what concept of life you follow, there are always songs that express your awe for life and all its opportunities, promises and mysteries. You can sing them inside your head while meditating to connect yourself with the higher being, the god or the energies you believe in. What will be your rhythm? Your breath shall be the anchor at all times, in your life, in your asana practice, in your meditation, in your moments of highest humility before the powers that none of us can understand. Just like a song that captivates your heart and causes your breath to adapt to the tunes of instruments and the touch of someone’s voice.
Have you ever tried meditation with music? Do you know that one musical piece that just takes your soul, hugs it and takes it away on a journey? Try to find this piece of music for meditation. Does it match your breath when doing asanas? Does it open your heart, when you breathe in that way while practicing the respective heart opening asanas? Music doesn’t always disturb the silence, sometimes it is the only thing that can create it.
According to the eight limbs of yoga you shall practice yourself in pratyahara, which is sense withdrawal. That would in theory contradict everything I just stated in the above paragraphs about how music and yoga can be linked together. However does it really? Can I shut myself out of something without experiencing it? Can I really detach myself from something that I do not carry in my heart. In my opinion you can keep music in your heart and with every breath you take while meditating, every breath that keeps you alive shall be dedicated to your personal piece of music inside you. Even if there is just silence inside your mind and heart, it is still a tone. There can’t be any silence without noise.
At last there is the universal sound of AUM. Anybody, even the deaf can learn to say this word. It shall connect you to the universe according to yoga. So it is again the music that connects you to things that you simply cannot grasp. Music brings you a little closer to understanding what we humans are, and where it is that our souls are heading, when the time arrives for us to finally rid ourselves of ego and leave everything behind.
1 Patanjali Yoga Sutra, Vers 2.46-48