Yoga teacher training changed my life. Yet, in the thick of it, those six months were comparable to attending boot camp. There were strict rules, high standards, and last minute schedule changes that had trainees jumping through hoops to find babysitters, teach impromptu classes, and cram for a "surprise" final written exam.
Our trainers were traditionalists. Through the intensity of the program, their beliefs became deeply ingrained into my psyche in such a way, that they led to nightmares, like the one where I can't recall the Sanskrit names of the yoga postures I am teaching my students (bad!) or where I forget to chant "Om" at the end of class (super bad!). One of the views that was passed onto me was that I had to be "mindful" with my music selections. I had to make sure that the music I chose did not interfere with the self awareness that my students were trying to cultivate. While the experimentation with modern music has become more widely acceptable in yoga classes today, the playlists at my training school were conservative, Sanskrit chanting, flutes, acoustic guitars, and recordings of the sounds in nature.
I personally find playlists of sounds of rain or babbling brooks or birds chirping to be dull, or contrived. Because THERE IS NO BABBLING BROOK GOING THROUGH THE YOGA STUDIO! WE ARE NOT IN THE MIDDLE OF A RAIN FOREST! And pretending we are feels strange. We're in New Jersey! With urban sprawl! And road rage!
My goal is to be happy and to live the life I love, which is also my goal for my yoga students as well as for all of you. Simply stated: The sounds of babbling brooks and birds chirping don't bring me joy. If I can't listen to them and enjoy them while I'm practicing yoga at home, how can I possibly play them for my students without feeling like a hypocrite?
Some of the best advice I ever heard in regard to being a yoga teacher is this: "Teach the class you want to take."
How do I want to feel when I come out of a yoga class?
I want to feel energized yet clear headed.
I want to feel empowered.
I want to feel inspired.
I want to feel strong.
I want to feel confident.
I want to feel happy.
I began to tweak my playlist for my home practice. Instead of pretending to like the sounds of flutes and ocean waves, I started to play music that makes me feel energized, confident, and strong. Here are my top 10 favorites to practice to right now:
1. Sure Shot – The Beastie Boys
2. My Doorbell - The White Stripes
3. Where the Streets Have No Name – U2
4. Rocket Man – Elton John
5. Bittersweet Symphony – The Verve
6. Hey Jude – The Beatles
7. Cherub Rock – Smashing Pumpkins
8. Tomorrow – Silverchair
9. Short Skirt/Long Jacket – Cake
10. Release – Pearl Jam
So far, I have avoided playing the White Stripes in class, because I'm not sure how others would feel about Jack White asking them to ring his doorbell while they're in downward facing dog. But I've played Elton and The Verve and Pearl Jam and TONS of U2. I throw in some more traditional "yoga" music as well. I like Wah! and Krishna Das and I adore MC Yogi, but it has to be music I like versus the music that I think I'm "supposed" to play. Remember, I'm teaching the class I want to take.
There are times that silence serves a purpose, but nothing inspires me like a good song.
What's your soundtrack for yoga? Running? Life? What music inspires YOU?
© 2012 Ilene Evans