It is often debated as to whether music should be part of a yoga class.
Traditionally, the practice of yoga is one without extra stimulation of produced sound and many long time yoga devotees cringe at the upbeat tunes played during a modern vinyasa class. However music can play a beneficial role in yoga in many ways especially when it comes to pregnancy, babies and deep relaxation.
Music has the ability to transport us, whether that be to a higher sense of consciousness or into deeper into rest. It also has the power to stimulate our nervous system and even cause anxiety, so the music we choose for yoga, or birth, has to be well considered.
🏾 For those pregnant, music can be the bridge that helps carry the sense of deep rest they achieve in their Prenatal Yoga class into the birth room. I am frequently asked by students for my Prenatal Yoga playlist that is then used on repeat in the birthing room. As a doula, I also use my playlist in the birth room or in preparation for birth, particularly when clients don’t have a calling to create one themselves.
Music helps during labour by stimulating pleasure and providing a distraction that enables both better tolerance of pain and coping throughout. Another way music supports the birthing experience is by increasing the secretion of endorphins – the brain’s natural pain relievers¹.
👶🏼 There has been much research looking at babies’ recognition and relationship with music. Music makes a big difference to the baby brain. One study from the Institute of Learning and Brain Sciences detected that after babies listen to music, their auditory and prefrontal cortexes look different ². Not only does using music in a Mother and Baby Yoga class, be it singing or recorded music, have a positive influence on babies’ development, when babies are getting restless, a deeply soothing piece of music can be the trick in bringing calm to the whole room and allowing mums some Savasana time. Singing songs or mantra can be equally soothing to both parents and babies.
🧘 Music, played thoughtfully, can also create depth and richness in slower classes such as Restorative Yoga. It can offer a mental anchor through long held poses especially for newer practitioners of yoga who may struggle with slowing down within long held poses. And of course, deeply relaxing music we know also supports the fertility journey³.
🔊 When using music in these settings however, it’s important we don’t over use songs with words that can fill the mind rather than quieten it. It’s also important to consider volume – not so loud that people can’t hear you talk over it but not so soft that it’s an irritating background noise. The quality of your speaker can also be key in how enjoyable the music is to listen to – there is nothing more irritating than a tinny clatter of music playing in the background when you are trying to relax. And remember, just because a certain song reminds you of your favourite Greek beachside holiday, it may sounds more like a Mamma Mia track to others, so try to exercise objectivity when choosing your playlist.