Music for Yoga
I love music and I always have! I’m not a music snob by any means, but I do have some very specific tastes. Growing up, I was really into The Beatles; punk rock music; bands in my local music scene, rap and hip hop.
I still love a lot of the same music I’ve been listening to for 20 years, but my listening habits have drastically changed. These days, the time I have for listening to music tends to overlap with my personal yoga practice and planning classes for my students.
For me, music is essential in my personal practice and it makes up a huge part of a yoga class. When I’m taking a class, it is often the first thing I observe about the class. If the music is too fast or too slow for the teacher’s pace; if it is distracting from the class; if it is too loud or not loud enough – these factors can make a class that would otherwise be really enjoyable a very uncomfortable experience.
On the flip side, the right tempo played at the right times can help communicate for the teacher. Gentle music helps quiet bodies and minds. Playful songs can emplower a class to try difficult poses and take risks.
Check this lady out! I’m so proud of her progress and inspired by her dedication 💯 She has really developed her upper body strength and core over the past few months and it shows 💪She is always up for a challenge. It brings me so much joy to be part of her transformation. #yogastrong #armbalance #yogainspiration
Then there is a whole other category of music for yoga that is built on intentional tones and frequencies. Songs with crystal bowls, binaural beats, and other forms of energetic sound therapy can be used for chakra balancing, aiding the transition into meditation (or savasana), to encourage emotional and physical healing, just to name a few.
My current yoga playlists are products of a decade of collection and cultivation. I take a lot of pride in these lists. I’ve gotten countless comments on the music I play during yoga and meditation. My favorites are when someone picks up a thread of my nerdy fandom and says something like, “is this from Game of Thrones?,” or “this is like an Indian version of that Sia song!” My coolness feels totally validated and we are instantly kindred spirits for life.
Music for Yoga
Don’t expect to find a concise list under this heading because there is an endless variety of music for yoga and I couldn’t possibly include it all here. To be honest, just about any music can be used in a yoga class.
Know Your Niche
I once had a job offer from a studio that wanted me to teach yoga to alternative rock music. I would have totally done it too but the commute to the studio was too far so I didn’t take the gig. If Nirvana and Radiohead playing in the background is what attracts you to my yoga class you’re just as welcome as anyone else in the room.
With a dozen types of yoga and a wide range of class variations within each style, it makes sense that there would be a plethora of music options. I can only guide you on the types of music for yoga that I use in my practice and my classes. Lucky for you, I teach and practice a very general, old school type of yoga and my music is for general audiences.
How to Make a Playlist for Yoga
Below is the breakdown I use to organize my own music for yoga. Feel free to use my list to pick up ideas, then scroll down to the section on how to find music for yoga and fill in your playlists with your own musical tastes.
Categories of Music for Yoga
Gentle: Non-intrusive, slow-to-mid tempo music; mantras, soft instrumental, chill out remixes of pop/hip hop songs
Upbeat: motivating, up-tempo music; house/DJ mixes, or upbeat remixes
Sound Therapy: intentional music made for healing, meditation, or relaxation
The flow chart above breaks down the three categories and provides examples of each. Each of the examples are artists that appear multiple times in my playlists. When making your own playlist, consider going with more general lists rather than anything specific.
All of my playlists are named after the category or type of music, as opposed to a specific class like my “Moon Salutes Goddess Kali” class.
What is the Best Music for Yoga Class?
The answer really depends on the structure of your class. Sometimes I switch back-and-forth between playlists within the same class. For example, my one-hour class might look like this:
Start class with a centering track like Oceans of Light during pranayama and continue to play the Gentle playlist through warmup poses.
Switch to upbeat music for Sun Salutations, standing asanas, and balancing asanas. This includes the most challenging and rhythmic part of the class.
Return to Gentle tracks for inversions, deep/floor stretching, and yin poses.
One 16-minute binaural beats track played throughout suppine spinal twists and savasana.
Most of the classes I teach roughly follow the above timing. There are exceptions – in restorative classes I play a Gentle playlist the entire time, and in Power Vinyasa classes I keep it on the Upbeat playlist.
Are There Famous Yoga Musicians/Recording Artists?
Yes! Several musicians and recording artists are renown for their yoga tracks. Some of the ones I feature on my playlists include Snatam Kaur, The Human Experience, Anugama, Matisyahu, MC Yogi, and Kaminanda. Additionally, some pop artists have released songs that are perfect for yoga like Madonna and Moby.
Your Personal Style
There are DJ tracks and remixes of awesome music from every genre that has a nice beat for yoga class. This is where you can weave in your personal style, fandom, and musical taste into your yoga class without affecting the flow of your playlist. Here a few examples of my personal flare in class:
José González – Teardrop (Grandmax remix)
José González – Crosses (Dinnerdate remix)
Nina Simone – See-Line Woman (Mr Mendel edit)
Sia – Big Girls Cry (Odesza remix)
Sia – Chandelier (Moseqar remix)
Madonna – Shanti Ashtangi
Jay Z – Dear Summer (Caibeatz remix)
Game of Thrones – (Rameses B remix)
I’m struggling with super tight hamstrings. I’m holding stress tension in the backs of my legs while I work on the computer and I’ve been struggling with it for about two weeks now. I stretched to warm up for class and I can really see the reduced range of motion due to tight hamstrings. #yogastretch #tighthamstrings #hamstringstretch
How to Find Music for Yoga
A great way to find music for yoga is through sites like SoundCloud and Spotify. These sites make it easy to find music similar to virtually any track you like. A string of similar tracks provides a non-intrusive audio backdrop for teaching yoga. On SoundCloud, you can discover new artists. Several tracks are available for download directly from SoundCloud while others can be downloaded through iTunes or direct from the artist.