Here are some of the different types of Yoga Music you will find:
Spanda Yoga Music
Spanda, the marvellous concept in Tantric Yoga, can be translated as “Shimmering Delight”. It is a Sanskrit term for the subtle, creative pulse of the universe and means vibration, movement or motion. Everything in nature consists of Vibration and we are all manifestations of it.
This may be why it works as it does—why it makes us happy or sad or fearful or lonely or calm or ecstatic; why it makes us want to sing or dance. Musical vibrations communicate directly with our bodies and with our inner selves and act to align our emotions and feelings in certain ways. We could even say that we are all music in apparently solid form. So it’s easy to see why music might appeal to our true nature.
In the workshops we use music and chanting to contact the “essential self”—the witness beyond the physical and mental layers which normally dominate our lives.
We begin with postures and alignments inspired by Anusara Yoga. Together with breathing techniques from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, these help our bodies and minds to become calmer and less distracting.
We can then use the vibrations of musical and vocal sounds to touch our deeper selves.
Ireland and India
Music, chants and mythological stories from the Irish and Indian traditions help us to make this contact—techniques from opposite sides of the great Indo-European linguistic area. These ancient stories, chants and melodies which have survived for hundreds if not thousands of years, blend in one meditative technique.
Both India and Ireland have been highly active in transmitting new ideas and old wisdom. So much in the Celtic mystical tradition aligns with Indian, and especially Vedantic philosophy, that the two work amazingly well together.
When we add the direct experience of music to this mixture, the result is highly potent.
We may experience Spanda as a desire to live according to our innermost urgings, to act in line with deeper interests and with our body’s natural rhythms within the grander scale of natural seasons and cycles.
Living in this way keeps us connected to our core beliefs and desires and brings health, stamina and joy. When we lose our creative “spark” or spanda, we lose energy, focus and our sense of well-being and we may eventually fall ill. Connecting with the vibrations that drive us is also when we are most aligned with the natural spontaneity that defines our life processes.
Singing and music making is common to all traditions and much of the best music in the world is as a result of “spiritual” impulse—the desire to understand how we fit into the universe. Yoga Music is simply the use of sound and music as a meditative technique. When it is associated with yoga postures and breathing, it becomes a powerful tool to get in touch with our real selves.
Yoga practice encourages this connection. Because of the natural, controlled breathing necessary to produce, continue, and interrupt a sound, singing could easily be called a technique of yoga breathing or Pranayama.
Kirtan is the Sanskrit name for yoga music. The Sanskrit language lends itself to being sung and chanted. During a typical Kirtan, one person will sing one line of a mantra or verse and the others will sing it back. It’s that easy.
The melodies and rhythms are simple and easy to learn and once you are comfortable with the form, you just concentrate on the words and tunes. Because it’s music, it comes to us much easier than some of our other breathing practices.
You don’t have to be able to sing or chant to do this practice; you can just sit, listen and breath if you prefer. The sounds around you will still have a profound affect on you.
One of the great advantages of learning to use sound in our practice is the way it helps to develop confidence and strength in our breathing.