Using music in a teen yoga class

A week before our next teacher training workshop (Jan. 21-22 in NYC..one spot left!) and once again I find myself going through the guidebook making sure I’ve caught every last spelling mistake.  I thought I’d share a new excerpt from our upcoming preteen/teen yoga teaching guide…enjoy!

MUSIC for Teen Yoga Class

As an adult yoga teacher, I have strayed from using music in my classes so that my students can more easily listen to the sound of their own breathing. While music can inspire us to go deeper, it is often relied upon by some teacher to distract us or, if you will, to continue the ongoing chatter in our brains that we are trying to smooth out.

I also want my teen students to listen to themselves and silence can really be golden for them; but I feel music is a great gateway for getting teens to be interested and engaged in yoga, or even to want to attend in the first place.  A useful technique is to play background music softly during the majority of class then slowly begin to fade it out.  I find that the contrast of music then silence can bring the students more in touch with themselves.  If you are good at keeping rhythm, using a drum to count breathing rhythms can also be engaging.  Most teens love music they listen to in their free-time, and it may be a fun option to allow students to play DJ or have a free choice once in a while.  Most of the time, teachers need to “re-select” choices because of language and subject matter that is not promoted in schools, so asking for music choices a few days beforehand is advised.

Teachers can use this opportunity in yoga to expose students to a variety of music styles.  Perhaps using a relaxing piece by Bach that they are also studying in music class or taking a pick from the wide selection of music from other cultures. If you don’t have these selections on hand, try exploring the website GrooveShark where you can sample full songs of many artists (but be mindful….if you constantly pick an artist or a certain song, it’s worth the good karma to actually purchase it).

Finally, we school teachers also need to watch out for yoga music that chants about a particular God.  Many schools I have worked in will not tolerate a chant praising Ganesha or Shiva so perhaps opt for a more “nonreligious” choice like Dharmma Mitra’s long Aums.  And if you teach younger kids, you can also find some child-friendly yoga songs for purchase at www.AsanaAlphabet.bandcamp.com.

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