What’s the common thread between yoga and music-making?

I was listening to the radio the other day and came upon an interview with a journalist describing the way their work has changed since the lockdown. Among other things like recording covered with a duvet to eliminate outside noise, they mentioned the difference social contact makes to doing interviews. They said when people meet face to face, they automatically synchronize their breathing patterns. This is what allows us to speak together without interrupting each other.

MYV - Connection


I got curious about this and started looking into the phenomenon. It turns out it has a name – interpersonal synchronization.

“Scientists have long known that people subconsciously sync their footsteps with the person they’re walking with or adjust their posture to mirror a friend’s during a conversation. Recent studies also show that when people watch an emotional movie or sing together, their heart rates and respiratory rhythms synchronize.”



All of this got me thinking, if even walking or talking to one another has such profound effects, how about sharing an experience like a concert? When I asked people in the Wellbeing for Musicians Facebook group what was the one thing they were missing about playing live concerts, one member said: “Communicating through music both with the co-musicians and with the audience. Sharing something in this one unique moment through music”. I have to agree.


And it just so happens that the interconnectedness of all of us is one of the key principles of yoga. The word yoga literally means union. This might be quite a big concept to wrap your head around which is why I like using metaphors. Like this one by the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh:

“We are all the leaves of one tree
We are all the waves of one sea… “


One thing that can help us connect is the breath. This is one of the reasons why breathing is so important for musicians and not just those that play wind instruments. So no matter what shape you are making in a yoga class, your breath is always a constant as well as the main focus. And even though we might not be able to meet face to face, we can feel connected by breathing together for an hour in yoga practice.