Some yogis prefer to practice in silence, attuned only to the sound of the teacher’s voice or to the ambient sounds around them. Others, myself included, love how music can enliven their yoga.
Music can be a powerful muse, setting the mood as you step on the mat. If you’re looking for something different than the traditional Indian or new-age music, try to personalize by choosing music that speaks to your heart while also appealing to your ears.
Any genre of music is appropriate, as long as it connects with your spirit. Crafting your own yoga soundtrack is an important and delicate art. Here are some elements to consider:
Be sure to pick songs with a tempo that fits their place in your practice. Start with a gradual build in your warm-up (such as Frou Frou’s “Let Go” or Madonna’s “Shanti/Ashtangi”), then keep your energy going through Sun Salutations (perhaps to U2’s “Beautiful Day” or Handel’s Royal Fireworks Music) before slowing down the pace for Savasana (with something like Sheryl Crow’s “I Shall Believe” or “Let It Be” by the Beatles.)
The beauty of the playlist is that you can time your practice perfectly to the music. Select the songs you think fit your sequence of asanas in the order you like and for the duration you desire.
Then as they segue, the songs alert you to when it’s time, for instance, to move from balance poses (“Defying Gravity” from Wicked seems so suitable, as does “Airplanes” by B.o.B and Hayley Williams) to floor work (to the hypnotic Habanera from the opera Carmen, or Ingrid Michaelson’s “Are We There Yet?”).
Pick songs with positive, motivational lyrics to help focus your mind. It could be a favorite hymn (Amazing Grace), a pop anthem (Katy Perry’s “Firework”), or some soothing Gregorian chant.
If you prefer instrumental music instead of vocal music, a multitude of beautiful and inspirational pieces can enhance your yoga from classical music (Massenet’s Meditation for cello) to movie soundtracks (Hans Zimmer’s soaring Man of Steel).
Whether you choose Bach or Beck, Aretha or Alanis, your personal yoga playlist can guide the pace of your practice as well as your outlook. On the mat, you can be yogi plus DJ or symphony conductor, directing the music designed to bring your yoga to its greatest forte.