Are there any games with musical tracks that make you want to just pause the game and chill for a while?
Music is powerful.
Whether you notice it or not, music can significantly affect your mood, energy, and the feeling of your environment. If you choose to employ it, music becomes a tool to positively affect your mind and body.
As gamers, we’re fortunate to have a library of absolutely fantastic music to draw from, much of which works well with a mindful movement practice. You can take your yoga experience to the next level by stringing together a playlist of video game music that suits your specific tastes, or comes from games you've played. Maybe you’re not even doing actual yoga postures when you listen to the music, but you can use it to energize or relax when needed.
How do you know which songs work for yoga?
It’s pretty easy to figure out what works: all you have to do is pick songs that interest you, find them on YouTube, your own music library, or from the source of the actual video game. Then listen to them (obviously), and pay attention to how you respond (physically, mentally, emotionally). The "paying attention" part and picking up on the subtleties of your reaction can possibly be a challenge, but don't over-think it.
Questions to consider while you assess a song:
How do you feel overall? Do you notice a change in your breath or heart rate? Do you start bobbing your head? Do you start full-out head banging? Do you want to sing? Do you “zone out” and want to let your mind wander? Do you “zone IN” and feel more focused? Do you relax? Does the song trigger strong emotions? Do you want to move around or do you want to lie down and let go? Do you start thinking about what it was like playing the game the song comes from? Or, are you able to separate from the game’s storyline to experience the music in and of itself?
Okay, that was a lot of questions. But it’s all part of a strong yoga practice: paying attention to your present-moment experience. It’s looking at reality itself rather than wearing lenses of expectations and associations with a song. For example, you might WANT to use a certain song for yoga because you love it and think the game it comes from is the GREATEST EVER. You might assume it’d be perfect to help you relax. But if you're paying attention to reality, the song might stimulate you too much or carry too many associations. So you respect that, save the song for non-yoga times, and find alternate tracks that help your mind settle.
The music you choose should be audible and relaxing, but not too prominent that you end up focusing on the sweet jams more than you do on your breath and body.
Creating Yoga Worlds with Game Music
RPGs and adventure games have fun and epic tunes that shape fantastic worlds. The music enhances the way you feel walking through different zones and levels. Think of Dragon Roost Island in Windwaker, Mumbo’s Mountain in Banjo Kazooie, the themes in Onett, Twoson, Threed, and Fourside in Earthbound, and Lavender Town in Pokemon, for example; they are crafted by skillful composers to bring a specific feelings to the worlds we love.
Even if RPGs or adventure games aren’t your cup of tea, it’s hard to picture a fighting game without music to pump you up, or a horror game without some form of music to create an atmosphere.
Having particular music in the background of a world is kind of like the movies. Imagine how it’d feel to have a personal soundtrack to your own life-- specific tracks for major events or places to enhance your experience or bring something more to life.
So in the same way you’ve experienced the benefits of game play in a good game soundtrack, you can actually use those songs in a personal soundtrack for your real life yoga practice, and experience those benefits as you move through postures. You are the character, now, as well as the designer of the game. You’re in your personal “yoga world” and are choosing the ambiance you think will best enhance game play (i.e., moving through postures). VGM can often work really well because much of it is purposefully designed to create an atmosphere in a game. We can't really say the same about other forms of music.
So, to sum it up, by being aware of how music affects you, you take control of shaping your yoga practice zone, pumping yourself up, or cooling back down.
In addition to your music choices, aspects of a good yoga world include: cleanliness, clutter-free, distraction-free, fresh air, and soft lighting. Just as an FYI. It's okay if you can't set up all of these things. Do what you can, and do what feels good to you.
NOTE: even though we just spent time telling you how music is great and can help your practice, we want to note that it’s possible that you actually find you prefer NO MUSIC during yoga. It’s definitely not a requirement.
There's a range. Some yogis believe it is too distracting and makes it more challenging to pay attention to breathing or stay mindful of movement when beats and melodies in their ears. Others choose minimal and ambient “relaxing” music, sitar drones, without lyrics. And then there are still others who are open to any kind of music, so long as it helps them into “the zone” and aids in their movement.
Stay open and accept your own needs.
So now, within our large library of quirky, relaxing, motivating, epic game music that we can choose from, think about options for your playlist. We encourage everyone to try different ways of incorporating music (or not) for your personal practice. Try to think of it as an exercise to buff your practice, so you get the biggest benefit (stat increase?) from it.
In part two of this blog, we each offer you some of our personal VGM favorites as launch pads to get started. Happy hunting and enjoy your practice.
Danielle enjoys yoga, writing, games, cartoons, and music. She relates a lot to Avatar Korra and is training hard as a yogi to learn element bending. She's also interested in exploring the element of PLAY found in both yoga and video games. Danielle is the one you see in the videos and the creator of Y4G.