Yoga Music Pick #1

Posted: February 22, 2011 in Yoga

One of the many ingredients to a successful workout is often the selection of music you choose to set it to.  Preferably, you want something that has a quick-paced steady tempo, that really gets your heart a-pumping, your limbs a-working and your spirit a-soaring.  For example, I like listening to ZZ Top when I cycle, perhaps a little AC/DC or a good Audiobook when I run or, as it has been lately – nothing and, well, you’re usually fucked for audible stimulus of any sort when you swim.  But what do you listen to when you do yoga?  After all, you can only listen to so many Gregorian chants before your ears begin to bleed out.

When I try to practice my yoga, I don’t want anything too aggressive or rowdy.  It can’t be denied that when you’re trying to find that inner focus and peace within yourself, it doesn’t help that Metallica’s  ‘Enter Sandman’ is also pumping through your headphones. I don’t know about you, but I would prefer listening to something a little slower and relaxing, something, dare I say it, meditative.

So, with that in mind I began to search through my extensive collection looking something that just screams out ‘ambient yoga music’.  Don’t all go breaking out your forgotten Enigma and Tori Amos CD’s just yet, I’m still a dude and I still need to maintain something of control here before I turn into one of those sensitive hocus pocus neo-hippie types.  Nuh uh.  No way.  I tried relistening to some old albums from my youth like ‘Ferment’ by Catherine Wheel, ‘A Storm in Heaven’ by the Verve, ‘Screamadelica’ by Primal Scream, and even ‘Ladies & Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space’ by Spiritualized.  While they were all a good listen and there were certainly plenty of introspective melodic moments to focus with, at other points, I found it was hard to hold my crane pose for any significant period of time while also rocking out in my head.  Nor is there any Air Guitar to be found in yoga – anywhere.  In fact, I found myself more drawn to run home, slip into my sparkly shirt and fire up the bong than I was to work myself through another series of Sun Salutations.

There has to be something cool, but less awesome…ya know?  Then I stumbled across a treasure that I remember passing out to several times back in University, Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music for Airports’ and I was, like, UREKA! What a score.  Released in 1978, it was the first to carry explicitly the name “ambient” – a term which Eno coined to differentiate his minimalistic approach to the album’s material and “the products of the various purveyors of canned music”. Whatever, hippy…nice tunes.

The music was designed to be continuously looped as a sound installation, with the intent to defuse the tense, anxious atmosphere of an airport terminal.  Sounds like perfect yoga music, don’t you think?  It’s no small wonder that I immediately think of the Hong Kong International Airport every time my instructor switches on her usual mixed disc of ethereal wind chimes.  Eno originally conceived this idea while being stuck at Cologne Bonn Airport in Germany in the mid 70s. Regardless, I found it to be as equally effective as a yoga accompaniment as it was to pass out to after a night out back in the day.    If I could only have seen myself now back then I could have saved myself about 15 years of self abuse.   Groove on that.

The ‘Music for Airports’ album is good as well in the sense that because it’s only 42 minutes in length, it’s about the perfect time frame for a good slow, yet invigorating, yoga workout.  There is a nice, soothing landscape being created which helps float your brain away while not distracting you from your pigeon pose.

I will continue to search out other, well, shall we say, less rocking albums and soundtracks that also might be well suited for my slower introspective yoga sessions.  In the meantime, if you’re interested, you can easily download this treasure from iTunes for a measly $8.99…or I can burn you my copy.  I doubt Mr. Eno is hurting for the cash.  If you have any recommendations for ideal yoga soundtracks in the meantime, I’m all ears…just spare me the Enya albums, please.  I’m not quite ready to go there yet.

As my neon flowered forefathers might have said: “Enjoy the mellow, my brothers and sisters“.

  1. I listen to good old heavy metal when I work out. I don’t do yoga, however. But, I can imagine that there are some great instrumental movie soundtracks that would be suitable for yoga…

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