“What was that song that you played during…” is one of the most asked questions I hear as a yoga teacher. I’ve found that finding great yoga music and crafting a harmonious playlist creates an engaging and powerful experience for my students, but playlist creation can take much time, effort and patience. After 18 years of playing music in yoga classes I’ve discovered a few secrets and sources for creating a yoga playlist that I’d like to share with you.
The hardest part of my process is finding amazing music that isn’t overplayed, is not overly “new-agey” and is suitable for a focused and introspective yoga experience. Below is a list of my top four favorite resources for finding yoga music. These all require a good starting point, so browse by genre (new age, instrumental, world, ambient, etc.) or pull up an album that you already like and then use the recommendations on that page. The more you purchase and interact with these websites the better personal recommendations they will generate.
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Pros: I’ve found their “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” and “Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed” lists give good results.
Cons: Short or nonexistent song previews and complicated MP3 download process.
Bonus: Low prices, free shipping and great customer service.
Pros: Their “Recommended For You” gives great genius results based on past purchases, most songs have 90-second previews.
Cons: Can be slow and difficult to navigate, features come and go with each new software release.
Bonus: Song popularity rankings make it easier to find “needle in the haystack” gems.
Pros: Great staff picks, they give previews of the entire song, you can follow fans with similar music tastes.
Cons: Limited catalog with mostly independent artists and small music labels.
Bonus: You can browse by a cornucopia of tags, many albums offer “pay what you want” pricing.
Pros: Free downloads, full song previews, a great source for remixes and mashups.
Cons: Poor search results.
Bonus: A great interactive community of artists and music fans.
When adding music to a yoga playlist there are several things to consider and be aware of:
- A great yoga music playlist will sync with the flow and intensity in your yoga practice. My playlists start with a chill tempo, quickly build intensity and then mellow back down to ending with quiet ambient drones for shavasana. This follows the structure of my yoga classes, creating a wave of intensity and tempo towards the middle of the class and playlist.
- Be mindful of the emotional tone and reactivity of each track. Music can have a wide range of emotional response, from dark and moody to bright and happy.
- If your playlist has songs with lyrics (English, Sanskrit or foreign), I’d recommend mixing in several instrumental tracks, especially at the start and end. I use songs with English lyrics sparingly as they often create strong emotional responses.
- I like to create cohesiveness in my playlists by limiting the music tracks to one or two genres and/or specific instruments (guitar, piano, etc.).
- I’ve found that making my playlists longer than the length of my class allows me some flexibility to skip a track or two, which allows me to fine tune the music to the class experience.
Music is a deeply personal experience. Many yoga teachers and students prefer to not play music at all during classes and some teachers only play music in a part of the class. Since the music you play during yoga can have a powerful effect on your mind, energy and emotions it is essential to be mindful of the songs you choose to play.
What are your tips for finding and creating yoga music playlists?