There are lots of varying viewpoints out there about music during Yoga. Some are VERY against it, some are only looking for instrumental background ambiance, while others take it to the next level—using music to create a unique and personal feeling to their classes.
If you are like me and want music in your practice, then I have some tips for you. You can certainly let your personality come alive through music, but I do think there are some guidelines to follow to make the perfect yoga playlist for your classes or your home practice.
If it's for your home practice, then it's easy. But if you are also a teacher like me, there may be a bit more to it. It is important to know the energy of the class—is it meant to relax and calm the students or is it a flow-based class that will have a mix for Yin and Yang?
Once you know the class type, energy, length of class, and general audience, then you are ready to plan. Try to consider these 5 tips when you start planning your next playlist.
1. Start and End: Slow, Easy, and Instrumental
Think of your music like an arch. Your mind and mood will shift as you move through your practice. You need to give time and space at both the beginning and end for breath. Music with too fast of a beat early on may inspire you to move too quick and skip the connection you need with your breath. Music with distracting instruments or lyrics may make Savasana difficult to tune out and disconnect.
2. Keep the Theme of Music Positive and Fun
Stay away from break-up songs or songs without a positive undertone. You come to your mat, much like students do, to feel uplifted and better than when you began. Songs with lyrics of heartache or unhappiness can be distracting and often bring people down.
If there is a song you just love and it makes you smile, it may be a good fit! I personally also like to keep in mind the season—summer lends itself to catchy, beachy songs or pop beats, but in the dead of winter, that tone may not work. Again, be aware of your audience.
3. Make Sure the Music Flows From One Song to the Next
This will require you to actually listen to the playlist, in order, from start to finish. I even like to give it a test run at home during my home practice, if I plan to bring it into the studio or gym.
Try not to skip from genre' to genre' too quickly. Old school hiphop beats fading to country, for example, is not a smooth transition. Try adding in instrumental beats, especially when trying to change the tone of the practice, or setting up for a balance series.
4. Avoid Over-Played Radio Tunes and Songs 'Heavy' in Lyrics
If the lyrics feel like they are being screamed at you, they are probably too loud for yoga. That doesn't mean the beat can't be strong—in fact, some of my favorites are beats from artists like ODESZA, Craves, The Deli (Just the Remixes: Vol. 1 Instrumentals), JDilla (The Diary Instrumentals), or Beats in the Bank (Instrumentals: Vol 1).
If you turn on the radio and hear a song in your yoga playlist, that doesn't mean you can’t use it. But if it's the song of the season and it's on radio stations ALL the time, it may be time to retire it. kNow that you don't have to start from scratch each time you set up a new playlist—borrow a song or two from a past playlist and then build from there.
5. Always Add 2 or More Songs Beyond What You Want for Savasana.
Keeping the calming music playing while you clean up after class, or while your home practice finishes up, will help carry the feeling of calm off your mat. Some of my favorites for Savasana: Nathan Zavalney (Shavasana) or Lucid Dreaming.
There of course are more tips out there for how to build a perfect yoga playlist, but this should get you started. What else do you consider when picking out tunes and creating your playlist?
Image credit: Samrat Pasham