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How Yoga Enhances Musical Practice

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

How Yoga Enhances Musical Practice

Yoga instructor Tianna Christine has been offering vigorous vinyasa classes set to live music for almost a year now at M Institute for the Arts. Due to stay-at-home orders, the regular yoga class has moved online, but the live music with yoga is still going (find out how below)!

What do yoga and music have in common? Quite a lot according to Tianna. “Music and yoga are art, they are both expressions of feelings,” she shares. Her online Live Music Yoga Classes will continue throughout the spring/summer with the next three on May 17, May 23 and May 30.

Tianna Christine
Tianna Christine

Rhythm in the Body

Rhythm isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about yoga, but it plays an important role. “In a free flow yoga practice, you can move based on your breath and how your body feels, there is a rhythm that you move to based on how you are feeling,” says Tianna. “With music, it is created based on emotion and feelings.” Both practices utilize the mind-body connection. While the movements needed to play a musical instrument utilize small muscles, performing is still a physical activity. A frequent issue that performers encounter is holding their breath while playing. Having a healthy flow of oxygen to the brain results in a more joyful and calming performance experience. By practicing yoga and frequently linking breath to movement, musicians will find greater ease breathing while playing.

Benefits of Live Music with Yoga

An incredible component of Tianna’s classes at M Institute is listening to LIVE classical music played on the piano or cello. “Live music enhances the practice of yoga because music can dynamically be changed to adapt to the practice in the moment”, says Tianna. Yoga and music performance both center around being in touch with the current moment. Just as a performer might take a special pause, a yoga practitioner might stay in a pose that feels good for a little longer.

Listening to music while doing a physical activity can be a synesthetic experience, a way to feel sound. When performers listen to music while being physically relaxed on a regular basis, it could help them with performance anxiety.

Relieve Physical Stress

Frequently, performers encounter overuse issues. A huge benefit of practicing yoga is to counteract and prevent these physical symptoms. By being more in touch with your body, performers can prevent potentially career ending injuries. Developing a healthy movement practice allows musicians to approach their instruments with less tension and a greater ability to focus on the music, not the aching shoulder.

Finding Flow

Finding the flow isn't limited to those practicing yoga, the musicians find it as well. "The repertoire for the hour varies with the flow of the practice. Sometimes I come in with a desire to play all Bach and end up playing only Schumann or improvise because that’s what flows," says pianist Christine Hilbert. "While it was easier to match the energy and atmosphere of the room in person, the online classes have been liberating because I no longer have volume restrictions. This has allowed me to work more with soundscapes and colors on the keys." Performing for livestream classes has opened up creative possibilities.

Affecting How Musicians Perform

Playing for a yoga class affects how musicians perform. It becomes a collaboration, just like playing chamber music. "When I play cello alone, I draw from my own imagination. When I collaborate with Tianna, her use of breath, poses and energy help inform the way I present the music, and in the opposite sense, she is able to respond to the music that I am creating," says cellist Emma Johnson. "I truly enjoy this unique kind of collaboration as I feel it is an all around wholesome experience for all involved!"

Join the Yoga Community

Having a community of people to practice yoga with is like playing in a great chamber music group. The group supports and inspires each other to show up and do their best. “Coming together to practice yoga as a community has a special energy that transfers through the network connections and through the screens of the community on the other side of the screen,” says Tianna. “Practicing yoga alone is great but it becomes more than a normal practice when you know someone else is on the other side of the screen.”

The class is about more than just stretching, it’s an opportunity to come together as a community and find joy and ease in the body and mind.

Live Music Yoga Classes

Live Music Yoga Classes

Suggested donation $10 per class.

Enjoy vinyasa yoga for all levels accompanied by live, classical music on the piano or cello via Zoom.

May 17: Reserve your spot

May 23: Reserve your spot

May 30: Reserve your spot

About Tianna Christine

Tianna Christine is a Yoga Alliance registered (200-hour) yoga teacher and holds a certificate in children’s yoga. She specializes in teaching those new to the practice with private and group classes, and is able to customize each class based on the audience for an enjoyable experience for all.