One day, after encouraging his students into a well-deserved Savasana (Corpse Pose), a yogi who loved wireless clip-on microphones tiptoed out of his studio and down the hall to the bathroom—all without turning off his mic.
Fortunately, this yogi's wife made sense of the sounds blaring at the resting students through the studio's loudspeakers. Jumping from her mat to turn down the volume, she saved her husband a great deal of embarrassment—which could have been avoided completely had he only paid more attention to his audio equipment.
As a yoga teacher, I enjoy treating my students to music and audio that enhances their experience. As a sound engineer, I know this can only be done with some basic knowledge of audio equipment.
The Benefits of Audio
Sarla Nichols, proprietor of Midtown Yoga in Memphis, Tennessee, trained in the rigorous and silent Iyengar tradition. Since discovering Vinyasa, she embraces the practice of adding music to classes.
"I think the music becomes a reflection of the teacher," Nichols claims. She says the teachers handling Midtown Yoga's 50 weekly classes distinguish themselves by the music they play.
Karen Russell, Anusara teacher and owner of North Hollywood's Yoga Groove studio, also credits music with attracting students who wouldn't normally come to yoga classes. In one of her more popular classes, students may hear anything from the Cure to the Beatles to New Wave. "And it seems to work," she says. "People resonate with it."
What to Know
Following a few simple rules can help you use audio with grace and confidence in your yoga classes.
Used at its best, audio know-how simply complements your individual approach to teaching yoga. For new teachers, this means not letting music or microphones get between you and your students.
Nichols treats her students to all kinds of music, from meditative to alternative. However, she urges her teacher trainees to forego music in their classes altogether if it keeps them from being present for their students. She plays no music during Headstands, meditation, and other exercises that rely on a student's ability to go deep within.
"Silence is luminous," says Los Angeles yoga teacher and former monk Bindu Dan Dexter. He regards sound as a means to increase awareness and lead students to inner silence. "Sound is a delicate thing," he explains, "and a very powerful thing that, if used correctly, can have really powerful results—it might be one of the most powerful elements in terms of stimulating the meditative experience."
Baba Singh is a certified Kundalini yoga teacher in Los Angeles and works as a sound engineer at international yoga festivals.