“Entrainment” is a term being used in many contexts recently. The simplest example of entrainment is the connection of an auditory rhythm (think: music with a catchy beat) with body movement (dance). The experience is noticing that your foot is tapping, or your hands clapping to the beat, without being conscious that you chose to move that way — entrainment happening on the spot.
There are many layers to this concept. From the scientific, to the psychological, to the cosmic, entrainment is being offered as a therapy; a gateway to new scientific knowledge; an explanation for why meditation “works.”
In the context of yoga asana practice, we could think of two levels of entrainment that occur:
- the braiding together, or binding, of body movement and sensation, breath, and awareness/focus. A deeper view of this level of entrainment can be seen in the Five Koshas yogic philosophy.
- the binding that occurs within a yoga class, when yogis begin to sync movement and breath with each other. Again, this is operating on a feeling/instinct level within the group.We are enacting a subtle feedback loop that brings our senses both inside our bodily sensations, and outside to the space of practice.
Why do often feel so good after yoga class? Yes, there are endorphins and relaxation, cool music and soft guidance, but could there be also the entrainment of movement and breath in the group? A softening of the boundaries that keeps us defended and separate? Our curiosity about entrainment and developing awareness when it does occur may be another opening door to how we can be together, in harmony, as just simple human beings, enacting Ahimsa (non-violence), the first principle of yoga.