Much of what makes a yoga class great for students is subjective. Do they like a challenging flow, or did they come to relax in a restorative class? Do they like hands-on adjustments, or do they want to be left alone? Do they want you to be serious, or do they appreciate playfulness? Do they like the music you are playing?
The good news is once you develop your own style of teaching, students who appreciate your “brand” of yoga will find you. And generally, they’ll agree with your music choice because it’s an extension of your personality and, if planned well, fits seamlessly into the class.
So, how do you build a playlist that will flow with your class without being distracting or feeling misplaced? Here are some basic guidelines to follow:
You’re probably doing this anyway as you plan your sequence, but each segment can have its own tone. Don’t go crazy and make huge jumps in style, volume, or mood; ease into your selections. Just like your class builds to a peak pose, your music should also build.
The opening and closing songs will resonate most with your class, as they are likely to be less focused on music during the flow.
If you’re focused on centering, choose calming songs or instrumentals that will not distract your students but rather support your lesson.
Don’t choose songs because you think your students want to hear them. If you pick music that speaks to you, your playlist will feel more genuine.
Ask other teachers what they are playing, or sift through other yoga playlists using programs like Spotify.
Yoga can be anything from athletic to relaxing, but there are some types of music that don’t have a place in your class—no matter your yoga personality. Think heavy metal, rap, and music with offensive language or lyrics.
You shouldn’t have to instruct over your music. Shouting at your class is not relaxing for anyone.
Just like you wouldn’t teach the same sequence week after week, you shouldn’t play the same songs over and over again. This, of course, excludes teaching series, but you probably wouldn’t be using music anyway.
Just because other teachers are playing music in their classes doesn’t mean you have to—the choice is yours. If you’re unsure about what to play, you may be better off avoiding music, as it could end up making you feel uncomfortable and become a distraction to both you and your students. The main focus of your teaching should be creating a safe and comfortable environment.
Soundtrack or not, always have fun and be yourself. That’s the best gift you can give to your students.