Music brings sounds together in a harmonious way. Different pitches and notes are pieced together, rhythmically combining to form a melody. And when this melody reaches our ears, it can often feel like our own tempo is syncing up to the beat, falling into the same groove we hear and feel in a song.
Music can move us in both senses of the word. Have you ever found yourself tapping along to a song? Bopping around when your favourite tune comes on? Singing along to something you haven’t heard in years? This is your mind and body connecting with the sounds you are hearing.
It can also inspire a more emotional reaction. We all have our favourite songs, albums, artists; they rouse thoughts and feelings within us, sometimes serving as a bridge between us and our memories. Many of us use music to help reach a particular headspace, perhaps even to release some kind of emotion that has been building up inside.
There’s a scientific explanation behind our relationship with music. The melody of a song can take you into the ‘flow state’ where part of the prefrontal cortex of your brain temporarily deactivates. This is also what happens when you daydream or hit a REM cycle in sleep. Our conscious mind subdues and we lose ourselves to the rhythm of the music. It becomes almost meditative.
This is where music can come into play with yoga. Flowing to sound might just seem like a nice way to practice, but there is actually something deeper going on between your mind, body and breath as you move to the beat.
Primarily, music can help us ease into a practice. Sometimes when you come to the mat, you’re not in the right headspace to meditate and move. No matter how much you focus on your breath, you just can’t get into it. With the sweet symphonies of a song, you might be able to drop a little more into the present and get into your flow.
The melody might also help you marry your body with your breath, one of the principle aims and benefits of yoga. You may have noticed your teacher using the crescendo of a song to move through a more energising asana, before the soft sounds of something slower lulls you into Savasana. The pitch, tempo and rhythm of a piece of music can bring shape to your flow, a kind of map through which you navigate your practice.
Not only is the rhythm of the music anchoring your mind here, it is also helping to anchor your body and breath. Yoga is a practice of union between these three elements, and music can be a compass through which you coordinate a sense of harmony and alignment, inside and out.
We can even use music as a way to let go. As the science suggests, our pull to music has the potential to be hypnotic, a slip into our more unconscious minds as we surrender to the sweet sounds of a song. As our body, mind and breath sync to its subtle vibrations, this feeling of alignment can help any physical, emotional and mental sensations melt away.
Like a moving meditation, flowing to music can help you find the space, silence and freedom to relinquish your grip. Even if just for a moment or two, everything that matters correlates and what doesn’t falls away, leaving us more in sync, and ultimately at peace, with ourselves. Music is magic. That’s why we flow to sound.
If you’re feeling inspired to move to some music, do check out this special piece composed by Finn Evans. He’s a very talented musician who you may recognise from our very own front desk! We think the calming cadence of this song is ideal for a gentle and grounding flow, but it’s completely up to you how you move. Just let the sound guide you. There'll be more coming your way soon too.