While soothing music drifts through yoga studios and practitioners’ personal spaces alike, the image of what yoga music truly is as an art form proves hard to define. Yoga music brings with it the clear intent and visions of the artist, catering specifically to the physical, emotional, and spiritual shifts of yoga to promote an overall sense of wellbeing in an individual. While instrumentally yoga music might mirror the sounds of contemporary songs that play across airwaves, featuring guitars, harmonicas, drums, and other familiar sounds, you may also hear foreign instruments, singing the songs of other cultures, such as the esraj or bansuri. However, it is not the instruments that set yoga music apart, but rather the use of mantras and chants, often stemming from the Sanskirt and Gurbani traditions, which infuse yoga songs with spiritual lyrics, some dating back thousands of years. It is through these time-honored mantras that participants can feel a deep sense of connection to the past, channeling the energy and wisdom of all of the yogis and teachers since yoga’s beginnings.
These mantras combine words and sounds considered sacred to yogis, knowing that they hold incredible power and energy. Often described as naad, or the sacred sound current, these songs provide a thread to connect people to the universe and to the Divine while engaging their inner self. For example, chanting “har” connects the participant to the creative potential of God, whereas, “ong namo guru dev namo” connects a yogi with Divine wisdom that flows through all of humanity. These mantras hold within them an even more powerful experience for those who do not natively speak the language. For English speakers, words such as “love” and “God” hold a lifetime of associations, which consciously, or subconsciously conjure powerful memories as the words enter the mind and grace the lips. Chanting any names of God benefits yoga practitioners, with Sanskrit names charged with energy allowing people to personally address the Divine, furthering spiritual growth.