Every once in awhile, I get asked a random question that I think other people likely are thinking about but not asking. So, I thought I'd write (on a random schedule) about these sorts of questions.
The first random question is: Why don't you play music in class?
This is a great question. There are actually lots of reasons why. I'll start with the one that most recently caught my thinking and immediately inspired me to stop playing music in class: it's illegal.
Turns out - even though pretty much the whole of yoga culture plays music in classes - that when you play music in public, and in particular when you're leading a for-profit class such as a yoga class, the law states that you need to pay a license to the musician.
You see, buying a CD - like buying a DVD - means that you are purchasing it for private listening (or viewing) only - not public. As such, this CD (or DVD) cannot be played in a public venue, and in particular a profit-making venture. Essentially, it's stealing money from the artist who created the media.
Coffee shops, gyms and restaurants all pay licenses to play music in their venues - and the musician gets paid for the value that their music brings in ambiance.
But in yoga classes we haven't done that. I've never done it, anyway. And when this came to my attention several weeks ago, I went . . . well, holy moly, I *can't* play music in class!
One of the principles of being a generally good person is not stealing stuff. It's also one of the yoga principles. So we'd better practice it, right?
On a personal note, though, my preference is also simply to not play music in class. The purpose of a yoga class is to instruct students in the practice of asana (postures) and pranayama (breathing), as well as developing awareness of body and mind. Music can distract from the learning of these skills and, as such, works at cross-purposes to what I'm trying to accomplish with my students. Also, I personally find music distracting while teaching! So it inhibits my ability to do my job well.
Over the years I have played music because students have requested it or because it served as a good sound barrier (particularly in gyms). Also, for some people, silence and quiet are *very* scary, because there is nothing but whatever is right there, right now. Sometimes that's way too intense, and so music can help soothe this emotional experience.
I never thought one whit about whether or not I was stealing from a musician. And I was. For over a decade. Sorry, musicians!
Now that I know better, I can do better!
I've opted to go back to what I prefer, to teach without music. I've found the classes to be more fun - and students have been telling me that not only are the classes more enriching, but it's also really, really nice to have some peace and quiet - something we very rarely have in daily life.
So there it is. That's why I don't play music in class!