Music and Yoga ~ The history and benefits

By Sammy Veall

When the phenomenon of music and yoga began in LA some 30 + years ago, a then 22 year old and soon to be yoga guru Steve Ross was at the crux of it. Being a musician himself, touring with Fleetwood Mac and Men at Work as a guitarist, he affectionately had one foot in the bar and one foot in the ashram and as his love for both music and yoga continued to flourish, he decided to merge the two.

Joining the LA yoga scene with his loud beats and traditional yoga poses Steve opened up his very own studio in Brentwood, California which dedicated its teachings to music and yoga. During the first few exciting months of opening Steve was criticised by purists who felt that music ruined such a loved and ancient practice and that ‘real yoga’ should be practiced in silence. Never the less it grooved on successfully for around 20 years before closing in December 2016.

Steve Ross wasn’t the only musician who played a role in the changing community of yoga in the West. The single moment when the West embraced India’s spiritual heritage is said to be when the Beatles studied Maharishi Mahesh’s Transcendental Meditation (TM). Suddenly a community known for pizazz and glamour developed a strong ethos for self exploration and overnight words like ‘mantra’, ‘guru’ and ‘ashram’ entered the every day vocabulary. Suddenly, it became cool to meditate and practice yoga.

Now in 2017, it’s uncommon to enter a yoga class in the West that doesn’t include at least some music. And by complementing yoga classes with culturally relevant music, we open up an ancient practice to a wider range of personalities and age groups.

Combining music and yoga respects the amount of time it takes for some minds to find stillness. As the human race continues to grow and develop with technology and pace, it’s a lot to ask someone to walk off the street, into a yoga class, close their eyes and relax. There needs to be a bridge that eases the mind to stillness and allows for a deeper relaxation and meditation. By using music as the bridge we can take people from where they are, and then slow them down so the mind can begin to meditate.

Indian-American Author and alternative medicine advocate Deepak Chopra says that “music is one of the few modes of incoming information that effects the whole brain and helps it to hum at a coherent frequency, similar to meditation. Music is also used in therapy to create new memories based on positive associations.” Again, this works with the idea of using music as a bridge to slip the mind into a frequency where meditation, happiness and stillness is created.

We look at yoga as a celebration of life and happiness, and as one doesn’t dance without music, one can’t yoga with out music either!

About the author:

Sammy Veal is the founder and owner of Melbourne’s Yoga213, Australia’s first Hip Hop Yoga studio. Sammy discovered Hip Hop Yoga in LA, After falling in love with the practice, she became a qualified hip hop instructor, and opened her own studio in Australia in 2013. Learn more about Sammy and Yoga 213 at www.yoga213.com.au