I remember the first time I ever took a yoga class with music. We were just beginning a great flow, and the classic song “American Pie” came on. It was July so I was feeling patriotic. The familiar tune took the class to another level for me, and I flowed like I had never flowed before. My chakras lit up. That session still sticks out in my mind as one of my favorite classes.
I have also had the opposite experience where clubby dance music stifled my zen moment. Crafting a playlist for your yoga class requires thought and careful consideration. As a yoga teacher who loves playing music and the co-host of a yoga and music radio show, I have some tips to share on making a yoga playlist that enhances the vibes instead of killing them.
Classes generally have a crescendo: a slower start, a buildup, an apex, and then a tapering off. Visualize a bell curve. Starting with a fast song can often set your personal tempo on high for the rest of the flow. Starting with a chill song—especially when you’re new to teaching—often helps create the right vibe.
Make sure to listen to each song all the way through before adding it to your playlist. You don’t want to be surprised by something like the sound of sirens at the end of a song. That happened when I played Frank Ocean’s cover of “Strawberry Swing” by Coldplay on Spotify. I thought the fire alarm was going off during class until I realized it was the song. Save yourself and your students that stress by listening to the whole tune beforehand.
Love Jay Z? Awesome. Play songs that light you up. Music is just another way of sharing energy, so find tunes that make you happy or speak to you; and channel those vibes. I teach a Hip Hop Flow on Friday nights where I play my favorite old-school jams, and it’s my most authentic class every time. People connect more deeply to you when you are self-expressed.
Here is a Spotify playlist of some of my favorite yoga jams for an hourlong vinyasa flow class. Breathe to the beat and enjoy.
Great playlists don’t just happen. Stay on top of music trends, follow people on Spotify and SoundCloud, and make friends with DJs. Check out music blogs and listen to your students when they give you playlist suggestions. They will love you when you play their song!
If your class is grooving in the middle of a great flow and a slower song comes on, skip forward or backward. Don’t let the music control your class—ultimately, you are the one in charge. I often switch to a completely different playlist mid-class when the vibes aren’t flowing the way they should. Own the energy in the room!