A higher yoga

Equinox's newest class Flow Play marries music and movement to optimize your practice. Download creator Derek Beres' 40-minute session to experience the brain-body magic.

Download Derek Beres' exclusive session to experience Flow Play.

That music helps us during exercise is unquestionable. It has been shown to increase heart rate, lower blood pressure, result in more efficient oxygen consumption and increase our pain threshold. On the flip side, classical and ambient music can reduce cortisol levels in our blood, calm the nervous system and bring us into a deeper state of relaxation.

Flow Play, based upon the powerful connection between music and movement, is the class Philip Steir and I developed after having spent decades working in music as DJs, producers and, myself, as a journalist. I’ve also been teaching yoga for nearly a decade, and know firsthand music’s transformative power. The class, which launches at Equinox locations in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas in October, marries music and movement to create the most optimal physical and neural experience possible—what psychologist Abraham Maslow called a ‘peak experience.’

Flow Play takes music from the background and makes it an integral part of this experience, with each teacher sequencing the soundtrack as a composer scores a film, moving along with the peaks and valleys of postures. That music motivates, inspires, relaxes and helps create focus we already knew; we wanted to know why, and more specifically, how that information enhances one’s yoga practice.

Flow Play Vinyasa utilizes music and sound healing as a catalyst for better movement, mental clarity and a more efficient practice. Class is progressively sequenced with an energizing but challenging flow. Music and movement work together to make brain magic; music has the ability to function as a metronome, helping yogis maintain a steady pace, reduce imbalances and false steps and decrease energy expenditure, resulting in a more efficient workout.

Flow Play Restore is a restorative yoga class using music and sound healing to inspire conscious relaxation, concentration and peace of mind. Music is a great energizer as well as an incredible tool for down-regulation. Music therapists play music to help patients deal with depression and anxiety; when someone hears music they like, their amygdala—the part of our brain that stores memories with emotional content—shuts off, helping one relax completely. This sort of information, presented in every class, can then be applied at home.

In his book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, John J. Ratey posits the idea that thoughts are ‘internalized movement.’ Exercise’s greatest benefit, he believes, strengthens our brain, which then affects our entire reality and how we move about in the world. What’s more, neuroscientists who study music have put forward the notion that music helped humans create language—our main system of communication was developed through an emerging penchant for melody and rhythm. Our brains are wired to combine disparate pieces of sound to form music, a unique quality among animals. It’s no wonder that music holds such a deep and meaningful place in our hearts.

Music and movement have always been deeply ingrained in who we are. Flow Play is a modern adaptation of this idea, created in the hopes of realizing what Estonian psychologist and neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp believes to be the most important quality of being human: play.

Ready to experience Flow Play? Download the Flow Play mp3.