Nada Yoga: Music and Yoga

Nada is a Sanskrit word which means sound and the nadam is referred to as one’s inner guru (teacher) or inner guide and it is said that one who is devoted to the inner guru, the nada, the inner music, obtains the highest bliss!

 In class, I often talk about pratyahara, the withdrawing of the senses by shutting out as many external sights and sounds as possible.  The first stage of pratyahara is to become still and quiet and allow an inner tranquillity to permeate the senses.  This can often be difficult for us to do! So one skill to work on first is to fine-tune our ability to listen externally, so then we can have the ability to listen internally. 

 Nada yoga involves a deep listening to the body, to its inner sounds and acoustics.  It also involves listening deeply to the music of the natural world.  Music can play an invaluable role in a yoga practice that is dedicated to enlightenment. Uplifting, spiritually directed music during asana practice as well as chanting can be used in yoga classes to refine hearing. 

 Music can conjure different emotions – it can make you feel happy, jealous, aggressive, calm, depressed or elevated.  It is evident that music has the power to transcend the thinking mind and good music can help bring about an expanded state of consciousness.  It has been said that good music has no literal meaning and it longs to connect us to the divine.  This deep spirituality of music is embedded in traditional Indian music.  Music is seen as a spiritual discipline that raises one’s inner being to divine peacefulness and bliss.  Ravi Shankar, the famous Indian musician, says that “our tradition teaches us that sound is God.  Musical sound and the musical experience are steps to the realisation of the Self.” 

 “One who desires complete dominion of yoga should thus explore the nada with an attentive mind and abandon all thoughts.”  ~Hatha Yoga Pradipika IV:93

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