New Teachers: Yoga Class Playlist Tips

Since I started teaching yoga, my music tastes have shifted to what I call “yoga music.”  Loosely defined as the music you’d hear in a yoga class, “yoga music” can be a mix of styles that add to the groove of the class, set a mood, or make the class feel like they’re back in old-timey India doing yoga.  Conversely, done poorly it can distract from the sequence and pull students out of their bodies and back into their heads during class.  The main thing is to let your personality come through not only in your teaching style, but from your playlist.

Sample 75 Minute Playlist

Here’s some tips on putting together playlists for your yoga classes so you don’t have to think about music during class.  In no particular order:

–  Try to make your playlists about 10 – 15 minutes *shorter* than the class time.  So for a 60 minute class use 45 – 50 minutes of music; in a 75 minute class, put together a 60 – 65 minute playlist; and for 90, about 75 – 80 minutes.  This gives you quiet time at the beginning of class to make announcements, get everyone settled, and get started doing poses (then start the music); and then hopefully the music will end as the class quiets down and moves toward Savasana.

–  The beginning of the playlist should have a strong, medium tempo, to get people moving.  The all time classic is “For What It’s Worth (India Dub)” by DJ Drez.  Then during the bulk of of the class, not too fast, not too slow is the idea.

–  Longer songs can limit the amount of transitions between tunes.  This will help with the overall flow, inasmuch as every song has its own rhythm, pace, key, and feel, and every time you switch songs you switch rhythm, pace, key and feel.  Krishna Das has some classics such as “Baba Hanuman” and “Kashi Vishwanath Gange” that are between six and 14 minutes. Now, some teachers use these 20 minute new age-y songs that drone on and on, that’s not my thing but it may work for you if that’s the mood you’re trying to set.

–  There are very few Kid Rock songs that you can use in a playlist.  I’ve only found one, “Lonely Road of Faith” and that’s because it’s the only Kid Rock song I can find that doesn’t have a swear word.  The lesson, I guess, is pay attention to the lyrics too.

–  Be on the make for good tunes wherever you are.  Download Shazam! so you can find out the name of songs you hear.  I’ve found good tunes at coffee shops, a friend’s dress shop opening, in the car on the radio.  Shazam is an app that “listens” to the song (you hold the phone up to the speaker), connects with iTunes and tells you the artist/song/album.

–  Don’t be afraid to use “fun” songs, like, every now and then I’ll throw in a Louie Prima song, or Christmas songs during that season.  Have a laugh, get folks to relax a bit more.

–  You still have to manage the music during class – listen for increases in volume or music carrying over into savasana (although I often play music during savasana, but that’s another topic HERE).

–  For a standard format yoga class, shoot for making the last 10 – 15 minutes of the playlist slower paced, softer songs, as the class will be moving toward floor work, calming down, and slowing their movements.  My all-time favorite songs to end class with are “Govinda” by Bhagavan Das or “Mahadeva Shambo” by Wade Imre Morissette (yes, Alanis’ brother).

–  Mix it up.  I try not to use playlists more than once per class.  On the other hand, I always keep a 60, 75, and 90 minute playlist on my phone in case I get called at the last minute to sub a class.  JIC sort of thing.

Here’s some playlist samples I’ve used over the years, you can totally copy them or just use them as examples.

SAMPLE PLAYLISTS

What are your ideas on putting together playlists for yoga classes?  Any cool, new tunes to share?

Comments welcome: