Here's Why Your Music Choice Strongly Affects Your Yoga Practice
This article originally appeared on Yoganonymous.com.
If you want to dive deep into yogic philosophy, let's talk about the music you listen to while you practice, the way it affects your mind, and the way that it alters your holistic practice experience.
Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher who coined the term, "that which does not kill us makes us stronger," also advocated that "we listen to music with our muscles." From a scientific perspective, he isn't wrong. We listen to music in over 10 areas of our brain—and two of those areas, the motor cortex and the cerebellum, directly rule the movement of our muscles.
The other eight areas of the brain affected by music are the corpus callosum, prefrontal cortex, nucleus accumbens, amygdala, sensory cortex, auditory cortex, hippocampus, and visual cortex. These areas of the brain rule hemisphere connection, satisfaction, emotional reactions, sensory experiences, perception, contextual memory, and visual connection.
So what does the brain's processing of music mean for your yoga practice?
Four things: It improves your cognitive functioning, improves focus, enhances creativity, and boosts physical output during workouts.
Don't get too excited—the four benefits: improved brain function, increased focus, amplified creativity, and increased stamina, only benefit you when you are having positive responses to the music you're playing.
Don't believe it? Try this simple test: play one song you despise. Listen to it for one minute, and notice the changes you feel in your body. Is your neck cringing? Is your core wildly tense? You are having a visceral reaction to the music!
Now play one song that you absolutely love—what's happening to you? Do you feel like dancing? Does your mind feel like it's filled with ease?
It doesn't matter if you like rock music, trap house, emotional ballads, or the sound of a sitar—it just matters that you like what you're listening to while you flow. Why? When we hear things we enjoy, our muscles soften, loosen up, and are more readily able to release tension, and toxins in the body. And really, who doesn't love a dopamine rush?
Use the brain's processing of music to your advantage by setting a clear intention for your practice. Decide on a topic that you want to work through (maybe it's related to your career, maybe it's your personal relationships, or maybe it's a desire to get out and travel more)—whatever you decide, you may be able to break through your cognitive clutter, and find the answers you are seeking with a little help from your music, and a lot of help from your yoga practice.
Need some musical inspiration? Check out my playlists on Youtube.