How to Create the Perfect Yoga Playlist
Get Into the Rhythm
By Angel Singmin
“Yoga is like music: the rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life” - BKS Iyengar.
The way that we combine music and yoga has organically evolved from the spiritual origins of Sankrit chanting, drumming circles and prayer bowls. Although our modern day Spotify playlists and electronic beats look vastly different to the humble beginnings of the practice, the effects of moving consciously to a melody are just as profound today. Many yogis still connect to their spirituality with mantra and chanting. It is in our true nature to align and express ourselves with sound.
Both music and yoga are designed to inspire movement and uplift energy, and are more closely entwined than you might realise. Bringing the right mood and sound into a yoga class adds another powerful dimension to the practice and can enhance asana to a new level. You can use rhythm to align focus and channel energy into a peak pose, or to soften the mood and wind down into relaxation.
At our events, we use unique beats to bring yogis to a deeper level of consciousness and discover playfulness on their mat. We can see the moment when a yogi’s breath and body unite and their movements become an effortless dance - because the music makes them move from their heart.
People often turn to music and yoga for similar reasons: healing, exercise, happiness and connection. A good yoga practice will seek to trigger the same effects that our favourite songs have on us. Certain songs have the power to open our heart, set free creativity, bring presence into the moment, inspire movement and tap into deep emotions.
Having music in your classes can have a profound effect on the practice, but just like all powerful tools, it’s important to use it mindfully.
Just like yoga, music is a release for many people, and both have been known to bring strong emotion to the surface or unlock memories. Can you remember a yoga experience that truly moved you? Many practitioners will confess that they’ve been brought to tears during classes because of the way yoga stirs up energy and emotions, especially with heart opening postures or sequences. Most of us have experienced a similar effect with a touching song or melody, feeling like it takes us to a deeper place.
Here are some guidelines to choosing an appropriate and awesome yoga playlist, as well as some of my favourite artists.
5 Tips for Creating Your Yoga Soundtrack
VOCALS – Less vocals are generally better. Although sometimes it can be comforting to recognise a familiar tune, you need your students to be present on the mat, in that moment instead of reminiscing back to a memory that the song or words have uncovered. As you become more accustomed to sequencing with music, you can start to be more creative as you learn what kind of tracks work well with the energy of your students.
TIMING – The timing of the practice with music is also a consideration. You don’t want to have slow, classical tunes just before an energetic peak pose! And likewise, a funky beat dropping just before savasana will have the opposite effect of relaxation.
VOLUME – Attention should be given to the volume of music. Too loud and the students might miss your cues, too soft and they won’t receive the intended goodness of the beat. Even for your own practice at home, making sure the music won’t cut into your focus is important.
TECHNOLOGY – Be prepared. Make sure you download the playlist or music you need before class so you are not relying on having the internet at the yoga studio or location you are teaching. There‘s nothing more frustrating than preparing an awesome soundtrack for your class or home practice and then being obstructed or distracted by internet issues or missing tracks and ending up with a disjointed or uneven flow.
RESEARCH – Take the time to research music that has been made specifically for your purpose. There is a lot of great music out there by artists who specialise in creating tracks for yoga, relaxation and meditation. Don't be afraid to try new artists and incorporate them into your playlist. Some of my go tos are: East Forest (who connects music with sounds of nature), SOLON (who makes music for savasana) and Edo and Jo (who use mantra). These also make great songs for concentration, study and creating a nice vibe in your home or studio.
And if you don't have time to pull together a playlist, don't fret - you can check out the Future Sound of Yoga playlist on Spotify or download one of our free 60 minute mixes that we have compiled especially for yoga flows.
Having a play with bringing music into your flow will add a new dimension to the practice of yoga that already gives us so much. Ultimately, the meaning of yoga is union. Union of the breath and body. And we have the same experience with music when we dance, so by aligning these two magical essences together, we can reach an even more enlightened and tuned in state.