A few weeks ago, a fitness studio in association with The Royal College of Music, organised an outdoor yoga class at Oxford Street in London, UK. The novelty of this session lay in the fact that it was conducted alongside a live classical music performance. The traditional asanas were performed to the sounds of strings, bass, woodwind and percussion instruments. This variant of yoga is one among two that are steadily gaining popularity internationally. While this one is popularly called Moga, or musical yoga, another variation that combines the traditional asanas with dance is called Voga. Propagators of the former believe that combining soothing music with yoga helps participants de-stress on a different level.
Several new-age yoga gurus, who consider the original form of yoga boring, are promoting these forms actively. However, they aren't ideal for those new to yoga.
For a beginner who is not well acquainted with all the asanas, it might be difficult to catch the beat, and perform the exercises simultaneously, as the concentration is majorly on getting the asanas right. But once the asanas have been mastered, the music will play a supporting role in the process.
It is advised that amateurs start their routines without music, as that makes it easier to concentrate. With the music playing, there is a chance that a beginner may end up doing the asana incorrectly and still continue doing so in order to stay in the flow. This can lead to injuries.
How does it work?
To start with, sit in any meditative yogic posture (sukhasan, vajrasan, padmasan, etc.), or if you are unable to sit on the floor, be seated on a raised surface. However, the head, neck and back must be erect, and the arms must be relaxed by the side of the body. The palms must be placed either on the knees or the lap, with the right palm atop the left.
Initially, focus on the external sounds. During this phase, you can choose to play pre-recorded natural sounds, such as the pitter-patter of the raindrops, the sound of the leaves moving with the wind, or that of the sea. Experts suggest opting for gentle instrumental music and avoiding lyrics, as words tend to distract the mind. The prime focus should be on the sound. Do not analyse the music. Listen, but do not attempt to interpret it. Efforts should be made to sharpen your sense of hearing. It is said that one's ability to hear even the minutest sounds improves with this technique.
This variety was founded by fitness expert Juliet Murrell. Her aim was to create a workout that blended music, dance and yoga, to essentially stretch, strengthen and tone the body.
While yoga primarily focuses on achieving peace of mind, Voga focuses more on the physical fitness and flexibility of the body. If done in an alternating pattern, the combination of these two forms of yoga is considered highly beneficial. Apparently, it can improve one's cardio-vascular strength, muscular endurance and flexibility too. Experts say that though there are several misconceptions about Voga being merely a new trend that dilutes the aesthetics of yoga, it is, in fact, just another version of the practice.
"For those who find traditional yoga boring and monotonous, this offers an interesting and recreational change. It is popular in the UK. Very soon it will catch up here too. Exercises should not become a routine or punitive. It has to fulfil a person's need for vitality, vigour and energy," says Mickey Mehta, holistic wellness guru.
How does it work?
Voga can only be done by those who have mastered the basics of yoga, as it involves a lot of quick movements. It should also be practised with the help of trainers.
-- With inputs from Dr Amrapali Patil, yoga guru and founder of Trim N Tone, Powai, and Sagar Pednekar, fitness trainer and manager, personal training operations, Gold's Gym India.