When I started teaching yoga in 1996, I was teaching in YMCAs and corporate offices. There were no stereos, and the portability of music on your phone was far in the future. I never brought a boombox along. During class (Ashtanga at the time) and even during Savasana there was silence. A woman who took my earliest classes later told me that during her first class, the silence was agitating. But by the third week of classes, she realized that the end of yoga class was the only time she ever had silence in her life. She began to relish that time, that peace and quiet.
Twenty years later, I still hold to that practice of not using music. I have even more reasons now than I did then. Every restaurant, every store, every open plaza has piped in music. Most restaurants also have big screen TVs all around. You cannot even get gas without having ads playing at the pump. Silence may be challenging, but it is missing from all our lives. Even when we can get away from the TV, the music, there is the humming of appliances, computers, air conditioning and heating. I may not be able to do anything about the latter, but I can at least lessen the noise by removing music from the practice.
Early on I discovered that whenever I did try and use music, that no one kind of music, no one song will resonate with the entire class. I'd rather have the entire class sort their way through silence than make one or two students have to sort their way through a song that agitates rather than soothes.
Lastly, I know many yoga teachers pride themselves on their playlist and timing music to coordinate with certain parts of class. I find it very impressive, and if it's the only way you're going to get through a practice, by all means rock out. When I used to run, I admit there were some runs that simply wouldn't have happened without my iPod.
But I leave you with the thoughts of a runner who got me to stop running with music playing (most of the time):
I'd posit the same to be true of being on the mat without music.
Deep, and not so deep, thoughts on bodies, movement, yoga, art, shoes, parenting, dogs. You know, life.