One of my favorite by-products of being a yoga teacher is that for a duration of time we get to become DJ’s. I love digging through music sites, making playlists, and finding new songs to inspire. Music can be a great tool to drive your practice deeper and we are vibrational beings that respond to vibration. There is a beautiful connection that can occur between our body and soul when we resonate to sounds during a heart-opening experience such as yoga.
This practice of connection is called Nada Yoga.
When we consciously move our bodies in harmony with our breath we are attuning the internal vibration (anahata); when we dance to music, we move through the external vibration (ahata). The external and internal worlds have a hypnotizing, spiritual partnership that is evident in our bodies, our world and throughout the cosmos. We connect to this when we chant the sounds of Om.
This leads me into one of my favorite theories, entrainment, which is an aspect of sound that is closely related to the way rhythm affects us. Entrainment happens when one powerful rhythmic vibration of an object causes a less powerful vibration of another object to oscillate at the first objects rate.
We feel this when listening to a song and we start to tap our feet to the rhythm. Or, when a pendulum is swinging and syncs with another that was originally at a different pace.
In our body we are always in a state of entrainment as our heart rate, respiration and brain waves entrain each other. When we are flowing in the middle of a vinyasa and the music is playing, often times we feel like we are moving and synced with the music, tuning deeper into our breath. At the end of a class, when we are sitting in meditation and slowing our breath, our heartbeat starts to decrease as well. The same concept happens with music. When we listen to fast pace music our heart rate rises and when the sound is softer, our heart rate slows. A research paper by Doctors Janet and Hobart Landreth called “Effects of Music on Physiological Response” reported that heart rate changes were directly related to changes in tempo.”
Recently, I have been more aware of how important sound is now that I have been pregnant for nearly six months. To think that this little one inside of me is listening to not only my heart beat, but also my tummy growling, my respiration, and the outside sounds around me! (How crazy is that?!?) I find myself becoming more aware of what I say, the music I am listening to, the people I surround myself with, the conversations I have, the movies I watch, and even the thoughts that I have.
I am a lover of electronic music and it is often remarked by class-goers that my playlists makes people feel as if they are on the Burning Man playa in Black Rock City. However, I am not sure that my little one in utero is quite ready for that just yet. I have been finding softer versions of songs, and trading out dubstep for chillstep, Nine Inch Nails for the Rockabye Baby Lullaby version of Nine Inch Nails songs.
In his paper “On the Effects of Lullabies” Johannes Kneutgen reported on the soothing effects of lullabies played for infants and noted that breathing rhythms became synchronized with the rhythm of the music. Using the idea of Nada yoga connecting the outside vibration to the internal vibration I find it a beautiful way to not only find a deeper connection within myself, but also to this little Starr inside.