I remember the feeling of dread when I was faced with the prospect of creating my first yoga playlist. Even though it was just for a small class at the end of yoga teacher training I still felt the pressure. I worked with my friend for hours and after a lot of trial and error the playlist was made and it actually turned out pretty well (I still turn it on from time to time). Since that first playlist I have made many more and now it is one of my favorite aspects of creating a yoga class. It is vulnerable to share your music with others, even more so when you are in a teacher position and people tend to hold you to a higher standard. Whether you’re a rookie instructor, trying to get your home practice on, or a veteran teacher you can use this guideline to assuage your musical woes and confidently create a playlist you will love!
P.S. I made this guideline with a vinyasa class in mind but the tips are applicable to any yoga class.
1. Have the right platform
If you have a great music selection and you don’t think you want to update too often, right on! You can skip to the rest of the article. For the rest of us; constantly keeping up to date on new music and creating new playlists can get costly with iTunes, many streaming services lack user control and advertisements are annoying. After my 200-hour training I invested in Spotify Premium and it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. I use it for yoga playlists, while traveling, and just chilling at home. I love how easy it is to find new music and Spotify gives great suggestions. I highly recommend it and would be willing to bet it will improve your playlists! (NOT SPONSORED just love the service).
2. Know what you like and find more of it
I’m no music snob…I want to hear it all! Whether it’s from other teachers or random online discoveries I love finding new music. Not sure where to start? Check out Pandora, Spotify, YouTube, and Sound Cloud. Search through blogs and magazines as they often have great recommends. Ask friends and family what music they are listening to. I love checking in with loved ones in different cities to share music and keep in touch. Different music tends to be popular in different places so it can be a great way to expand your horizons. Just start exploring and you’re bound to find something awesome, the possibilities are endless! Oh, and when you do, make sure to store it as soon as possible. Which leads me to my next point.
3. Get Organized
Regardless of how you store your music I recommend keeping categorized playlists and folders ex. pump it up, mellow, mantra, etc. This will save you so much time and frustration when you need your playlist to be five minutes longer and you are out of ideas. Even if your music is a crazy mess and it feels daunting to organize please just trust me and spend a little time now to get your music sorted and pre-build playlists. I promise you won’t regret it.
4. Mix it up
I have playlists that flow between She and Him, The Doors, and Tupac all in one hour, and guess what? They work! Everyone likes different music, by drawing from oldies, pop, electronic, hip-hop, ambient noise, classic rock, etc. your music can appeal to a varied student base. I tend to listen folk and electronic most of the time but branching out has been a joy for me and improved my practice. Even if you can only think of a single song you like from another genre start there. You never know what gems you might discover by opening your mind a little.
5. Have a game plan
When I create a yoga playlist (and for that matter a class) I normally have a theme or mood in mind. Even if my theme is abstract I normally like to keep a few poses or strength sequences in mind so that I know which BPM (beats per minute) and genres will help support the various sections of my class. Keeping that in mind, I select a few songs to get my playlist started.
- A song to get warmed up to, something mellow as you get things moving.
- A transitional song that begins increasing BPM.
- What I refer to as “my core song” this is what I play during the highest intensity section of my class- something with high BPM that you want to sweat to.
- A transitional song that begins decreasing in BPM
- A song to wind down, begin to direct the playlist towards savasana
6. Fill in the gaps
Once I have the first few songs selected its time to get to work and make sure it all flows together. Knowing where I’m headed allows me to build to faster songs and back off for when the class is winding down. Think of each song as a slow transition to the next, this keeps the playlist flowing naturally.
If you really want to have a killer playlist every class it might take time. Remember when you first started your practice and alignment in down dog was so challenging? We grow in areas we work on, be patient and enjoy the process.
8. Own it!
If someone doesn’t like your playlist don’t take personal offense, maybe it just wasn’t their cup of tea. As long as your playlist isn’t distracting to class (please no death metal in Savasana) there is plenty of room to play around with what you like. Your playlist should be representative of you as a yogi. If you are happy to practice to it, I say vinyasa on!
Thanks for checking out my tips! Let know if you have some of your own or a favorite song to practice to.
Love and light,