Updated: Jun 20, 2019
When you enter a yoga class there are a few key elements you notice: the classroom, the props you need, lighting, temperature, the teacher, and the other students you will be practicing with. But once the class gets started, you notice another piece of the puzzle that has become a primary focus in the practice. That piece is the playlist.
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In teacher trainings, there is sometimes a large chunk of time devoted to what your playlist should look like for your yoga class. When I was taking my advanced prenatal training, we even had a section during that training where we went over how to structure a playlist for that kind of class. It is a frequent question amongst yoga teachers as we try to figure out what to play in order for the class to be a positive experience for the students.
I am not sure when this pressure to have the best playlist began, but I am curious if the influx of fun and catchy playlists in other exercise classes started to rub off on yoga teachers as well. Before I got married, I was taking a lot of barre classes and there was always a super upbeat playlist to get you in the zone. When I was taking hot yoga classes consistently a few years ago (before my training), the same playlist was used for every class, and you began to recognize at what point in the playlist the class would get more intense or begin to slow down.
As a yoga teacher, I do enjoy crafting a fun and exciting playlist, but I try to be aware of my audience. When I was teaching an Align class (all levels) I would play a lot of alternative and indie music that I felt had a good beat, but was relaxing enough to feel like yoga instead of barre. In this playlist, I included songs by artists such as alt-J, Sir Sly, DROELOE, and San Scout. It was for a 75 minute class and I would usually end up skipping some songs, but I designed it to build up and then cool down with the class. You can check out this playlist below:
Now that I teach Prenatal yoga, I have a different approach with my playlist. With the Prenatal class, I go for a more subtle vibe and use an instrumental playlist. I created this playlist with songs I like from a few meditation playlists and find them to be calming. During a Prenatal class, I like to feel like I am creating a spa-like experience with the music so that the moms come in and feel a sense of balance and relaxation. I also like this kind of playlist for Prenatal, since the whole playlist is relaxing and I don't need to skip ahead to a different song for savasana. Here is the playlist I use for Prenatal as well:
If you are a yoga teacher, what kind of music do you like to use in your class? Are there any go-to artists that you enjoy using?